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NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES 



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THE CORRESPONDENCE OF 

NICHOLAS BIDDLE 

DEALING WITH NATIONAL AFFAIRS 






TIL 



ACTOP LENOX 



THE CORRESPONDENCE OF 

NICHOLAS BIDDLE 

dealing with 

NATIONAL AFFAIRS • 1 807-1 844 

Edited by REGINALD C. McGRANE, Ph.D. 

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI 



/V* 




BOSTON & NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON iMIFFLIN COMPANY 

MCMXIX 



.A 



PUBLIC UBRAR'H 



I AM NOT a Whig. I am not a Locofoco. 
I once belonged to a 'party now obsolete 
called the Democratic Party, a very good 
party until it was spoiled by Genl. Jack- 
son. I am now only an American Citizen 
deeply concerned in the welfare iff very 
anxious about the character oj the country. 

NICHOLAS BIDDLE 



I^EXN/ YORK 1 



-IBRA'- 




COPYRIGHT, I919, BY REGINALD C. MCGRANE 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



TO THE MEMORY OF 
MY FATHER AND MY GRANDMOTHER 



Preface 



No APOLOGY is necessary in presenting to the public the follow- 
ing correspondence of Nicholas Biddle, President of the Second 
Bank of the United States. From 1804 to 1839 he was almost 
constantly engaged in some official capacity with national or 
state administrations; and throughout his whole life, until his 
death in 1844, he was intimately in touch with the leading 
statesmen of the day. These years embrace a most eventful 
epoch in the history of our nation. The purchase of Louisiana, 
the War of 18 12, the financial and commercial readjustment 
following the conflict, the establishment of the Second Bank of 
the United States, the organization and development of its 
power, the long struggle with President Jackson, the re-charter 
of the institution by the State of Pennsylvania, the panic of 
1837, the Sub-Treasury and President Van Buren, the appeal 
of Texas for annexation, the whirlwind election of 1840, the 
rupture between Tyler and the Whigs, the Webster-Ashburton 
Treaty, and the preparation for the heated campaign of 1844 
— all fall within the scope of Nicholas Biddle's life; and with 
all these movements the great financier was more than an inter- 
ested spectator. Not only was he in close communication with 
those in power, but in many instances he was the center of 
operations; and on all occasions he displayed the sterling, stal- 
wart qualities which have marked the Biddies of Pennsylvania 
one of the most distinguished famihes in our land. 

Since their entrance into America, now more than two centu- 
ries ago, the Biddies have been active in the service of the coun- 
try. Their advent was contemporaneous with that of WiUiam 
Penn, for the original ancestor, William Biddle, accompanied 
Penn to the new province. They bore their part in the priva- 
tions and aspirations of the early settlers; and in the Revolution 
they gave their best In blood and brains to further the cause of 
democracy. Charles Biddle, the father of Nicholas, was, at the 



X Preface 

birth of the latter, Vice-President of the Supreme Executive 
Council of Pennsylvania; Edward BIddle, an uncle, was a rep- 
resentative from Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress of 
1774, and later Speaker of the House of Representatives of Penn- 
sylvania; Nicholas Biddle, another uncle, distinguished himself 
during the war while commanding the frigate Randolph by at- 
tacking a British gunship of double the number of guns and 
losing his life in the cause for which he fought. With such ances- 
tors as these, Nicholas Biddle could not help being imbued with 
patriotism, loyalty, and devotion to his native land. His life, 
as illustrated in his correspondence, records his adherence to 
these lofty principles. In the following pages Nicholas Biddle, 
in his own words, relates his participation in the events of his 
period ; and the editor has trespassed on the account only with 
such notes as might help the halting memory of the reader in 
uniting the broken links of the narrative. But in view of the 
grave deficiency of an adequate life of this distinguished man — 
which the editor hopes to remedy in the near future — a short 
sketch of his life and a brief analysis of the salient contributions 
to our historical knowledge disclosed in the ensuing letters, 
seems not inappropriate. 

Nicholas Biddle was born in Philadelphia, January 8, 1786. 
He began his education at the academy, whence he went to the 
University of Pennsylvania. He was about to take his degree 
from the latter institution in 1799, when, owing to his extreme 
youth — being then but thirteen years of age — he determined 
to enter Princeton. In 1801, after a two-and-a-half-year course, 
he was graduated at the head of his class, dividing the distinc- 
tion with Mr. Edward Watts of Virginia. He then commenced 
the study of law, and soon attracted the attention of some of 
the leading men in the land by his diligence and skill. He was 
called from the pursuit of his profession by General Armstrong, 
a friend of the family, when the latter was appointed Minister 
of the United States to France in 1804. In that year, as private 
secretary to the Minister, Nicholas Biddle embarked upon his 
public career. 



Preface xi 



From 1804 to 1807, Mr. Biddle was In Europe. As secretary 
to General Armstrong, he was involved in the financial trans- 
actions necessitated by the sale of Louisiana; and in this capac- 
ity he began to exhibit those phenomenal abilities which later 
marked him as one of the greatest financiers of his age. At the 
conclusion of his service with General Armstrong, he traveled 
extensively in Europe, visiting with particular interest Greece 
and England. In England he met our Minister, James Monroe, 
and there began the friendship between these two which con- 
tinued throughout their lives. He returned home in 1807 and 
began the practice of law in Philadelphia. However, his innate 
love for literature could not be quelled, and he occupied his 
spare moments in editing the "Journal of Lewis and Clark," 
writing a great deal for periodicals on various subjects, and 
finally associating himself with Dennie in the editing of the 
Portfolio, one of the landmarks in American literature. Between 
18 10 and 18 18, he served two terms in the state legislature, 
where he distinguished himself in his advocacy of adequate 
education for Pennsylvania, in behalf of the re-charter of the 
United States Bank, and in military legislation during the War 
of 1812. He was chosen a Government director of the Bank of 
the United States in 1819; in 1822 he was elected President of 
the institution. He continued in this office until 1836, when he 
was elected President of the new corporation organized under 
the laws of Pennsylvania. But until the close of his life, in 1844, 
he took an active interest in current events. 

This brief sketch of Nicholas Biddle's life, however, fails to 
disclose the man or his achievements. Only a close reading of 
his entire correspondence can do this. When one peruses the 
numerous letters from such men as James Monroe, Henry Clay, 
Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Dr. Thomas Cooper, Horace 
Binney, John Tyler, George McDuffie, Edward Everett, John 
McLean, Edward Livingston, asking and seeking advice on 
public questions, the manifold activities of the great financier 
begin to appear. Agricultural societies, literary clubs, educators, 
colleges, philanthropists, financiers, and public men besought 



xn 



Preface 



his assistance and counsel. To all he showed the same courtesy 
and interest while carrying on his business transactions and his 
titanic struggle with President Jackson. From this great mass 
of correspondence the editor has selected only those letters per- 
taining to national affairs, and these naturally fall into the 
following groups: those relating to the long bank controversy; 
the re-charter of the bank by the State of Pennsylvania; the 
possibility of Biddle as a Presidential candidate in 1840; the 
panic of 1837 and the Sub-Treasury problem; additional in- 
formation on the McCullough versus Maryland case; the elec- 
tion of 1840; the framing of Harrison's cabinet; the split be- 
tween Tyler and the Whigs; the position of Webster in the 
Tyler cabinet and the reasons for his stand; and the prepara- 
tions for the Presidential conflict of 1844. In all these affairs 
Nicholas Biddle was either the center of interest or a close 
observer, and his letters throw much light upon many disputed 
points in connection with these topics. In giving these for the 
first time to the general public, the editor has rigidly adhered 
to their original form, without changing either content or spell- 
ing. With reference to punctuation the editor has not of course 
tried to "modernize" it in any way, nor to interfere with it at 
all, except to substitute periods at ends of sentences, where the 
writer has simply placed a stroke. In other places the editor 
has stricken out some superfluous commas when they seemed 
to interfere with the reading of the sentence. But, generally 
speaking, he has done as little as seemed possible. 

In the preparation of this volume the editor desires briefly 
to mention the great assistance he has received from a number 
of persons. First and foremost, he wishes to express his extreme 
gratitude for the courtesy and friendly cooperation at all stages 
of the work of the grandsons of Nicholas Biddle — Messrs. 
Edward and Charles Biddle. In 191 3, the members of the family 
deposited a large portion of their grandfather's correspondence 
in the Library of Congress. Permission was freely granted the 
editor to cull from this mine of information; and later, at the 
home of Mr. Edward Biddle at Philadelphia, and at the old 



Preface xiii 



homestead at Andalusia, Mr. Charles BIddle rendered Invalu- 
able aid In placing at his disposal the Intimate family collection. 
To both of these gentlemen he takes this opportunity of ac- 
knowledging their scholarly and hearty Interest in the project. 
The debt which all historical students owe to Mr. Gaillard 
Hunt, chief of the Division of Manuscripts of the Library of 
Congress, and especially to his able and ever-courteous assist- 
ant, Mr. John C. FItzpatrIck, for their efficient services, have 
been but Increased in the present instance. To his former teacher 
and continual counsellor, Professor WIlHam E. Dodd, of the 
University of Chicago, the editor is deeply indebted for reading 
the manuscript and offering many valuable suggestions. His 
former instructors and present associates. Professors Merrick 
Whitcomb and I. J. Cox, by their advice and daily encourage- 
ment have added to the heavy obligations which he already 
owes them. The editor's wife at all stages in the preparation of 
this volume has rendered Indispensable assistance. 

Reginald' C. McGrane 

University of Cincinnati 



Contents 



July 6, 1807 To James Monroe 3 

" " Advice on a career 
June 21, 1809 To James Monroe 4 

Relations of England and America 
July II, 1809 From Robert Walsh 6 

Characterization of the House of Representatives 
Aug. I, 1809 From Robert Walsh 6 

On Erskine's difficulties 
May 5, 1815 From James Monroe 7 

European conditions; a new coalition; Ferdinand VII 

in Spain; new policy for America 
Dec. 24, 1815 From Clement C. Biddle 9 

Suggestions for army bill 
Jan. 31, 1819 To James Monroe 12 

Appointment of Biddle as Director of United States 

Bank 
Jan. 8, 1820 From John McKim, Jr 13 

Politics in the Bank 
April II, 1820 From James Monroe 13 

Politics in the choosing of a director in the Lexington 

Branch 
Oct. 8, 1820 To James Monroe (enclosing pamphlet) .... 14 

Politics in Pennsylvania; pamphlet addressed to con- 
stituents 
Oct. 29, 1822 To 26 

Biddle's ideas on qualifications for a President of the 

Bank 
Dec. 2, 1822 From John C. Calhoun 28 

Calhoun offers his services to the Bank 
Dec. 6, 1822 To John C. Calhoun 29 

Reply to letter 
Feb. 3, 1823 To Campbell P. White 30 

Organization of exchanges 
Feb. 3, 1823 To Robert Lenox 31 

On administration of Bank 
Jan, 5, 1824 To David Sears 32 

Politics in the selection of a director in the Boston 

Branch 
March 15, 1825 To Colonel George Gibes 34 

Biddle's business principles 



XVI 



Contents 



April 22, 1825 To Isaac Lawrence 34 

Policy of the Bank in the Panic of 1825 
May 12, 1825 To Isaac Lawrence 36 

Solicitude for the prosperity of the Bank 
June 24, 1825 To Robert Lenox 36 

Question of the dividend 
June 28, 1825 From Walter Bowne 37 

Rumor of attack on Bank 
Jan. 23, 1826 To James Lloyd 38 

Bank and State authorities 
Feb. 16, 1826 To Daniel Webster 38 

First reference to Draft Notes 
March 14, 1826 To John McKim, Jr 39 

Appointment of assistant cashiers 
Nov. 23, 1826 To General John P. Boyd 40 

Selection of cashier for Branch Bank 
May 7, 1827 To James Crommelieu 41 

Policy of promotion in Bank 
June 29, 1827 To Daniel Webster 41 

Financial basis for selection of directors 
Nov. 27, 1827 To Campbell P. White 42 

Politics and the Bank 
Dec. 13, 1827 From John Sergeant 43 

Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 13, 1827 From Edward Everett 44 

Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 16, 1827 To Churchill C. Cambreleng 44 

Effect of Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 18, 1827 John W. Barney to Colt 45 

Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 20, 1827 From Roswell L. Colt 46 

Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 20, 1827 From Churchill C. Cambreleng 46 

Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 21, 1827 From Joseph Gales, Jr 46 

Barbour's attack on the Bank 
Dec. 26, 1827 To George McDuffie 47 

Biddle congratulates McDufifie on handling resolution 
Jan. 7, 1828 To John Potter 48 

Effect of Barbour's resolution on dividend and Bank 
May 28, 1828 From Henry Clay 48 

Clay's alleged indebtedness to Bank 
May 30, 1828 To Henry Clay -■ 50 

Reply to Clay's letter 
June 17, 1828 From a Stockholder 51 

On the subject of Bank dividend 



Contents xvii 



Aug. 14, 1828 To Daniel Webster 52 

Suggestion of Mason's appointment as President of 

Portsmouth Branch 
Sept. 22, 1828 From R. Smith 53 

Position of Dickins in Treasury; need for retention 
Nov. 19, 1828 From Richard Rush 55 

On the subject of the annual report 
Nov. 24, 1828 From Joseph Gales, Jr 55 

Comments on Biddle's political views 
Nov. 25, 1828 To Richard Rush 56 

Suggestions for annual report; value of the Bank to 

the nation ■ 
Dec. 2, 1828 To Daniel Webster 58 

Refuses loan to National Intelligencer 
Dec. id, 1828 From Richard Rush 59 

Analysis of his Report 
Dec. 20, 1828 From George Hoffman 61 

Effect of Rush's Report; time for recharter 
Dec. 22, 1828 To George Hoffman 62 

On Rush's Report 
Dec. 29, 1828 To Samuel Smith 62 

Bank adverse to entering political contests 
Jan. 5, 1829 From John McLean 63 . 

Accusations against Kentucky Branches for supposed 

political interference 
Jan. 5, 1829 To Samuel Smith 65 

Protection against investigation of personal affairs in 

the Bank 
Jan. 7, 1829 From Roswell L. Colt 66 

Rumors of the attitude of the Administration 
Jan. 9, 1829 To John Harper 67 

Adverse to politics in Bank 
Jan. 10, 1829 To John McLean 68 

Politics in Kentucky Branches 
Jan. II, 1829 To John McLean 69 

Politics in Branch; Kentucky Branches 
June 23, 1829 To Josiah Nichol 72 

Bank and politics; Washington interference 
July 6, 1829 To Robert Lenox ......... 72 

Portsmouth affair 
July 7, 1829 From Robert Lenox 73 

Portsmouth affair 
Aug. 14, 1829 From Walter Dun 73 

Politics in Kentucky Branches 
Aug. 28, 1829 To General Thomas Cadwalader 75 

Portsmouth Branch 



xviii Contents 



Sept. i6, 1829 To Asbury Dickins 75 

Newspaper attacks on Bank; no politics in Bank 

Portsmouth affair 
Sept. 30, 1829 To Asbury Dickins 77 

On Ingham correspondence 
Oct. 16, 1829 From William B. Lewis 79 

Views of Jackson on politics in Bank 
Oct. 21, 1829 To William B. Lewis 80 

Jackson and continued opposition to Bank 
Oct. 21, 1829 From Matthew L. Bevan 81 

Alleged satisfaction of Jackson toward Bank 
Oct, 26, 1829 From Samuel Jaudon 82 

Jaudon's conference with Jackson 
Nov. 9, 1829 Extract from William B. Lewis to Henry Toland . 84 

Alleged satisfaction of Jackson toward Bank 
Nov. II, 1829 From THE Same TO the Same 85 

Alleged satisfaction of Jackson toward Bank 
Nov. 15, 1829 From William B. Lewis 85 

On candidacy of Toland for Speaker of the House 
Nov. 22, 1829 To George Hoffman 87 

Need for balancing of political parties in Branches 
Dec. id, 1829 From Alexander Hamilton 88 

Jackson's message of 1829; advice against attempted 

renewal of charter 
Dec. 12, 1829 To Alexander Hamilton 91 

No idea of renewal of charter 
Dec. 15, 1829 To George Hoffman 91 

On President's message of 1829 
Dec. 17, 1829 To Nathaniel Silsbee 92 

Effect of President's message on stockholders 
Memorandum (in Biddle's handwriting) .... 93 

Account of Biddle's interview with Jackson 
Jan. 2, 1830 To Samuel Smith 94 

On President's message of 1829 
Jan. 9, 1830 To John Potter 95 

Gales's and Seaton's relations with the Bank 
Jan. 18, 1830 To John McKiM, Jr 96 

Biddle's views of the effect of the President's message 

on Bank 
May 3, 1830 From William B. Lewis 97 

Suggests names for directors 
May 8, 1830 To William B. Lewis 99 

Anxiety regarding President's views 
May 21, 1830 From Charles A. Davis loi 

Van Buren's alleged connection with President's 

message 



Contents xix 



May 25, 1830 From William B. Lewis 103 

President Jackson's attitude toward Bank 
June 10, 1830 (?) From Roswell L. Colt 104 

Van Buren's connection with President's message 
June 14, 1830 From Henry Clay 105 

Connection between Southern politics and attack on 

Bank 
Jltly 20, 1830 From Josiah Nichol 106 

Jackson's visit to Nashville 
Aug. 3, 1830 To Josiah Nichol 107 

Biddle's intrigue with Nichol 
Sept. ii, 1830 From Henry Clay no 

Advice against attempt for re-charter 
Oct. 30, 1830 to Colonel Hunter 114 

Advises against re-charter 
Oct. 31, 1830 To William B. Lewis 114 

Business versus politics in Louisville Branch 
Nov. 3, 1830 To Henry Clay 115 

Adverse to an attempt to renewal of charter 
Dec. 9, 1830 From Joseph Hemphill 116 

Effect of President's message on renewal 
Dec. 9, 1830 From Joseph Hemphill 117 

Advises secrecy of plan for renewal 
Dec. 13, 1830 From Robert Smith 117 

Alleged views of Jackson on charter; need for modifica- 
tion 
Dec. 14, 1830 To Joseph Hemphill 118 

Determined on renewal 
Dec. 16, 1830 From John Norvall 120 

Political aspect of Congress on renewal 
Dec. 19, 1830 From John Norvall 121 

Political aspect of Congress on renewal 
Dec. 20, 1830 To Mr. Robinson 122 

Supposed public opinion on recharter; need for knowl- 
edge on subject 
Jan. 29, 1831 From Roswell L. Colt 122 

Political relations of Van Buren and Calhoun 
Feb. 8, 1831 To William B. Lawrence 123 

Employment of newspapers in Bank struggle 
Feb. 10, 1831 To Joseph Hemphill 124 

Consideration of Duff Green's application for a loan 
Feb. 28, 1831 To Enoch Parsons i^-;i5' 

True policy of Bank in struggle 
March 2, 1831 To Joseph Gales 125 

Employment of newspapers in Bank struggles 
May 4, 1831 To James Hunter . . .126 

Justification for use of press 



XX Contents 



June 29, 1831 To J. Harper 127 

Blair's connection with Bank 
Oct. 19, 1831 Memorandum by Biddle 128 

Biddle's relation with McLane 
Nov. II, 1 831 From John TiLFORD 135 

Position of Clay on renewal 
Nov. 21, 1831 To Nathaniel Silsdee 135 

Preparations for re-charter; selecting directors 
Dec. 6, 1831 From Edward Shippen 136 

Jackson's view of re-charter; suggested modifications 
Dec. 7, 1831 From Samuel Smith 138 

Position of McLane and Smith on renewal 
Dec. II, 1 831 From Robert GiBBEs 139 

Friends of Jackson on Bank 
Dec. 12, 1831 From C. F. Mercer 140 

Advises re-charter 
Dec. 15, 1831 From Henry Clay 142 

Advises re-charter 
Dec. 17, 1831 From Samuel Smith 143 

Clay urges renewal of the charter 
Dec. 18, 1831 From Daniel Webster 145 

Webster urges Biddle to come to Washington 
Dec. 20, 1831 To Asbury Dickins 146 

On McLane's report 
Dec. 20, 1 831 From Thomas Cadwalader 146 

Arrival of Cadwalader; first views 
Dec. 21, 1831 From Thomas Cadwalader 147 

McLane's impressions as to vote; Cadwalader's im- 
pressions 
Dec. 22, 1 83 1 From Thomas Cadwalader 151 

McDuffie's views on re-charter; Cadwalader's im- 
pressions 
Dec. 23, 1831 From Thomas Cadwalader 152 

Further impressions of Cadwalader 
Dec. 23, 1831 To Thomas Cadwalader 154 

Influence of McDufifie's opinion on Biddle 
Dec. 24, 1 831 To Thomas Cadwalader 154 

Influence of McDuffie's opinion on Biddle 
Dec. 25, 1831 From Thomas Cadwalader 155 

Further impressions of Cadwalader 
Dec. 26, 1 83 1 From Thomas Cadwalader 158 

Further impressions of Cadwalader 
Dec. 26, 1 831 From Thomas Cadwalader 160 

Further impressions of Cadwalader; P. R. Livingston's 

views 
Jan. 4, 1832 To Samuel Smith 161 

Biddle's reasons for re-charter 



Contents xxi 



Jan. 5, 1832 From Louis McLane 165 

Opinions on renewal of the charter 
Jan. 8, 1832 (?) From Daniel Webster 169 

Views on memorial 
Jan. 10, 1832 From John Connell 169 

J. Q. Adams's views on re-charter 
Jan. 16, 1832 To Gardiner Greene 170 

Attitude of Philadelphia on re-charter 
Jan. 25, 1832 To Horace Binney 170 

Amount of bonus to be expected 
Feb. 2, 1832 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 171 

Jackson's views on Bank in general 
Feb. 6, 1832 To Horace Binney 172 

Dallas and Pennsylvania interests 
Feb. 6, 1832 To Charles Jared Ingersoll 174 

Dallas and proposed coup d'etat 
Feb. 9, 1832 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 174 

Livingston's views on Jackson's idea of modification 

of charter 
Feb. id, 1832 To George McDuffie 178 

McDuffie begins the struggle for renewal 
Feb. II, 1832 To Charles Jared Ingersoll 179 

Bank if forced determines on war; attitude toward 

President 
Feb. 13, 1832 To Charles Jared Ingersoll 181 

Suggestions for relieving controversy 
Feb. 21, 1832 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 183 

Attitude of Cabinet on re-charter 
Feb. 23, 1832 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 184 

Government's plan for modification of charter 
Feb. 25, 1832 To Charles Jared Ingersoll 185 

Agreement to President's modifications 
Feb. 26, 1832 To Charles Jared Ingersoll 186 

Agreement to President's modifications 
March i, 1832 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 187 

On Root's resolutions in Congress; attitude of Presi- 
dent 
March 6, 1832 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 188 

Effect of McDufhe's attack on Bank 
May II, 1832 To John G. Watmough 190 

Use of press for Bank 
May 30, 1832 To Thomas Cadwalader 191 

Account of visit to Washington 
June 5, 1832 To Thomas Cadwalader 191 

Results of Biddle's visit 
July 3, 1832 To Thomas Cadwalader 192 

Re-charter passed Senate 



XXll 



Contents 



Julys, 1832 Daniel Webster to Thomas Cadwalader . . .193 

Benefit of Biddle's visit to Washington 
July id, 1832 From W. Creighton 193 

Jackson's veto 
July 12, 1832 From William Bucknor 194 

Effect of veto on stock 
July 13, 1832 To William G. Bucknor 194 

Policy of Bank in coming election 
Aug. I, 1832 To Henry Clay 196 

Effect of veto; faith in Clay 
Sept. 20, 1832 Bank of the United States to John S. Biddle . , 197 

Receipt of Bill 
Sept. 26, 1832 To John Tilford 197 

Circulating Webster's speech 
Nov. 21, 1832 To John Rathbone, Jr 198 

No contraction of loans resulting from veto 
Dec. 8, 1832 From Roswell L. Colt (?) 199 

Suggests curtailment of loans 
Jan. 18, 1833 From Charles Jared Ingersoll 200 

Rumors of Jackson's new plan 
March 2, 1833 From John Sergeant 200 

Alliance of South and West against Jackson 
March 23, 1833 From John G. Watmough 202 

Van Buren and removal of deposits 
April 8, 1833 To Daniel Webster 202 - 

Question of removal of deposits; Bank determines on 

war 
April id, 1833 From Henry Clay 202 

Clay and Webster on Compromise Tariff 
April id, 1833 To Daniel Webster 205 

McLane's visit to New York; removal of deposits 
April 13, 1833 From Robert W. Gibbes 205 

Views of Cabinet on removal of deposits 
April 16, 1833 To J. S. Barbour 207 

Bank view of origin of Government's position 
April 27, 1833 From Thomas Cooper 208 

Volunteers services to Bank 
May 6, 1833 To Thomas Cooper 209 

Analysis of causes of Government's position 
July II, 1833 To J. S. Barbour 210 

Analysis of Government's position; opinion of Gouge 
July 12, 1833 From Thomas Cooper 211 

Appointment of W. J. Duane , 
July 30, 183.3 To Robert Lenox ai2 

Confidence in Duane; policy toward State Banks 
July 30, 1833 To Samuel Swartwout 213.. 

Attempts to justify Bank to Duane 



Contents 



XXlll 



July 31, 1833 To Thomas Cooper 213 

Confidence in Duane 
Aug. 13, 1833 To Daniel Webster 214 

Instructions to Branches on temporary curtailment 
Aug. 16, 1833 To Thomas Cooper 215 

Woodbury on position of Government toward Bank 
Oct. I, 1833 To Robert Lenox 215 

Policy of Bank after removal of deposits 
Oct. 29, 1833 From Daniel Webster 216 

Question of policy of the Bank 
Nov. 23, 1833 From Samuel Swartwout 217 

Rejects appointment as director; financial stringency 

in market 
Dec. 21, 1833 From Daniel Webster 218 

Question of professional services 
Dec. 21, 1833 From Henry Clay 218 

Suggestions for Bank policy 
Jan. 27, 1834 To William Appleton 219 

Bank determines on curtailment 
Feb. 2, 1834 From Henry Clay 220 

Advices against struggle for re-charter 
Feb. 4, 1834 From Horace Binney 220 

Webster suggests moderation in reductions 
Feb. 8, 1834 To John G. Watmough 22 L_^ 

Bank determined to fight 
Feb. 21, 1834 To Joseph Hopkinson 221 

Bank determined to fight 
Feb. 27, 1834 From John Sergeant 222 

President Jackson informed of distress; Cabinet 

meetings 
March i, 1834 To Samuel Breck 224-^ 

Effect of Governor W'olf 's message 
March ii, 1834 To Charles Hammond 225 

Justification for policy of curtailment 
March ii, 1834 To Samuel Jaudon 226 

Need for a charter 
March 18, 1834 From James Watson Webb 227 

Bank must adopt firm position 
April 2, 1834 To S. H. Smith 227 

Bank deterrmned on curtailment 
April II, 1834 To S. H. Smith 229 

Bank determined on curtailment 
May i, 1834 From Thomas Cooper 230 

Politics in Congress regarding Bank 
May 9, 1834 To John S. Smith 231 

True course of Bank in struggle 



xxiv Contents 



June 4, 1834 To R. M. Blatchford 233 

Policy toward State Banks and nation at large 
June 12, 1834 To Solomon Etting 234 

Policy toward State Banks 
June 14, 1834 To Alexander Porter 235 

House on Clay's resolution 
July 4, 1834 To William Appleton 237 

Financial statement of Bank; attitude toward Whig 

interference 
July 7, 1834 From R. Fisher 241 

Attitude of commercial classes on Bank struggle 
July 9, 1834 To James Watson Webb 243 

Abandonment of policy of curtailments 
Sept. 14, 1834 Alexander Hamilton to John Woodworth . . 244 

Albany Regency and the farmers 
Oct. 30, 1834 To Silas M. Stilwell 244 

Refusal to interfere in N.Y. politics 
Nov. 13, 1834 From Roswell L. Colt 245^ 

Suggestions for State Charter 
Jan. 7, 1835 To 246 

Outline of proposed charter from State of Pennsyl- 
vania 
May 9, 1835 From Daniel Webster (?) 250 

Van Buren and election of 1836 
May 12, 1835 From Daniel Webster (?) 251 

On Presidential election of 1836 
May 13, 1835 To D. Sprigg 252 

Placing officers of the Bank 
June 3, 1835 From Edward Everett 253 

National election of 1836 
Aug. 6, 1835 To John Huske 253 

Placing officers of the Bank and preparing to close 

up business 
Aug. II, 1835 To Herman Cope 255 

National politics of 1836 
Nov. 16, 1835 From John Norris 256-^^ 

Desire of New York for charter 
Dec. 4, 1835 From Jasper Harding 257 

Intriguing with committee at Harrisburg 
Dec. 6, 1835 From Charles A. Davis 257 

New York anxiety about re-charter 
Dec. 12, 1835 From William B. Reed 258^ 

Use of canals, railroads, and turnpikes in struggle for 

re-charter 
Jan. 15, 1836 To William B. Reed 261 "^■ 

Dictating to committee at Harrisburg 



Contents 



XXV 



Jan. 15, 1836 To Joseph McIlvaine 261 

Similar instructions to charge 
Jan. 18, 1836 From John B. Wallace 262 

Information on politics at Harrisburg 
Jan. 19, 1836 From John B. Wallace 263 

Bill introduced in Legislature 
Jan. 31, 1836 To Joseph MclLVAiN-t 263 

Instructions to McIlvaine on Bank struggle 
Feb. 5, 1836 From Charles S. Baker 264 

Preparing for a struggle in the Senate 
Feb. 6, 1836 From John McKim, Jr 265 

Maryland's proposal for charter 
Feb. 10, 1836 From Samuel R. Wood 265 

Description of Krebs affair 
March 17, 1836 From J. R. Ingersoll 268 

Application for Branches 
April 9, 1836 From Stephen F. Austin 269 

Texas sinking loan 
March 20, 1837 To Edward R. Biddle 271 

Conditions in financial market 
April 29, 1837 From Thomas Cooper 272 

Proposal of candidacy for President of the United 

States 
May 6, 1837 From Joel R. Poinsett 273 

Condition of money market; seeks advice 
May 8, 1837 To Joel R. Poinsett 274 

Desire for amity with government 
May 8, 1837 To Joel R. Poinsett 274 

Outlines relief for government 
May 8, 1837 To General Robert Patterson 276 

Seeks aid for his plan with Government 
May 8, 1837 From General Robert Patterson 277 • 

Van Buren's position in financial crisis 
May 8, 1837 To Thomas Cooper 277 

On subject of Presidential candidacy 
May 14, 1837 From Thomas Cooper 278 

Candidacy of Biddle for the Presidency 
May 24, 1837 From Thomas Cooper 280 

Candidacy of Biddle for Presidency; political aspect on 

eve of special session 
July i, 1837 From Thomas Cooper 281 

Candidacy of Biddle 
Jlxy 14, 1837 To John Rathbone, Jr 282 

Policy of Bank on eve of special session; rumor of 

Sub-Treasury 
Aug. 21, 1837 From B. W. Leigh 283 

Judge Marshall and Bank shares 



xxvi Contents 



Aug. 24, 1837 To B. W. Leigh 285 

Judge Marshall and Bank shares 
Aug. 25, 1837 To B. VV. Leigh 287 

Judge Marshall and Bank stock 
Aug. 28, 1837 From B. W. Leigh 287 

Judge Marshall and the sale of Bank stock 
Sept. 4, 1837 B. VV. Leigh to Biddle 288 

Judge Marshall and the disposal of shares held by his wife 
Sept. 7, 1837 To B. W. Leigh 289 

Judge Marshall and Bank stock 
Sept. 9, 1837 From Silas M. Stilwell 290 

Effect of President's message; the "Conservatives" 
Sept. 9, 1837 From Charles August Davis 290 

Van Buren and the Loco Foco party 
Sept. 13, 1837 From B. W. Leigh 291 

On republishing correspondence in Philadelphia and 

New York newspapers 
Sept. 15, 1837 To B. W. Leigh 291 

On republishing correspondence in Philadelphia and 

New York 
Sept. 15, 1837 To Charles King 291 

On vindication of Judge Marshall 
Sept. 19, 1837 From E. R. Biddle 292 

Request for money 
Sept. 20, 1837 To E. R. Biddle 292 

Reply to request for money 
Sept. 27, 1837 From Charles August Davis 292 

Effects of President's message; Loco Foco principles 
Oct. 20, 1837 From Thomas Cooper 293 

Attitude of South on Sub-Treasury; candidacy of 

Biddle for President 
Nov. 6, 1837 To E. R. Biddle 294 

On subject of Texas loan 
Nov. 7, 1837 From E. R. Biddle 295 

On subject of Texas loan 
Nov. II, 1837 From E. R. Biddle 295 

On Texas loan 
Nov. 24, 1837 From E. R. Biddle 296 

On Texas loan 
Dec. 16, 1837 From Thomas Cooper 296 

On candidacy of Biddle for President 
Jan. 20, 1838 From M. Newkirk 297 

Political outlook of Sub-Treasury 
Jan. 28, 1838 From D. A. Smith 298 

Prospects of the Sub-Treasury 
Feb. 3, 1838 To Henry Clay 299 

Getting instructions for Pennsylvania Senators; Sub- 
Treasury Bill 



Contents 



XXVll 



Feb. 5, 1838 From Henry Clay 300 

Question of instructions for Buchanan 
Feb. 6, 1838 From Henry Clay 300 

Instructions for Buchanan 
Feb. 7, 1838 From C. S. Baker 301 

Instructions for Buchanan 
Feb. 1838 (?) From Daniel Webster 301 

Efforts of Van Buren on Sub-Treasury 
Feb. 8, 1838 From Charles S. Baker 302 

Struggle at Harrisburg over instructions to Buchanan 
Feb. 9, 1838 From Charles S. Baker 302 

Struggle at Harrisburg over instructions to Buchanan 
Feb. 14, 1838 From Charles S. Baker 303 

Struggle at Harrisburg over instructions to Buchanan 
Feb. 16, 1838 From Charles S. Baker 304 

Passage of resolution instructing Buchanan 
Feb. 20, 1838 From Henry Clay 304 

Effect of instructions to Buchanan 
April 28, 1838 From John Sergeant 305 

Policy of Calhoun on Sub-Treasury 
April 30, 1838 To John Forsyth 307 

Suggestions to the Government for reconciliation 
May 30, 1838 From Henry Clay 309 

Repeal of Specie Circular passes Senate 
May 30, 1838 to Roswell L. Colt 310 

On subject of repeal of Specie Circular 
May 31, 1838 To Samuel Jaudon 311 

On subject of repeal of- Specie Circular; Biddle's de- 
light 
June 9, 1838 To Samuel Jaudon 313 

On repeal of Specie Circular; defeat of Sub-Treasury 
June 15, 1838 To John Sergeant 313 

Defeating the Sub-Treasury Bill 
June 23, 1838 To Samuel Jaudon 314 

On Specie Circular and the Sub-Treasury Bill 
June 29, 1838 To Samuel Jaudon 314 

Defeat of the Sub-Treasury Bill; repeal of the Specie 

Circular 
July 3, 1838 To Thaddeus Stevens 315 

Advances toward the Administration 
July II, 1838 To Joel R. Poinsett 316 

Advances toward the Administration 
July 13, 1838 To Thomas Cooper 316 

Defeat of the Administration 
July 31, 1838 To R. M. Blatchford 317 

Control of press on defeat of Administration 



xxviii 



Contents 



Aug. I, 1838 
Aug. 3, 1838 
Aug. II, 1S38 
Aug. 14, 1838 
Aug. 15, 1S38 
Sept. 6, 1838 
Sept. 7, 1838 
Sept. 10, 1838 
Sept. 14, 1838 
Oct. I, 1838 
Oct. 31, 1838 
Nov. 27, 1838 
Nov. 29, 1838 

Dec. 13, 1840 
Dec. 24, 1S40 
Dec. 30, 1840 
Jan. 21, 1841 
Feb. 2, 1841 
Feb. 4, 1841 
April 10, 1841 
Aug. 19, 1842 
Aug. 25, 1842 
Feb. 27, 1843 



From R. M. Blatchford 317 

Control of press on defeat of Administration 
To Samuel Jaudon 318 

Culmination of Bank war 
From B 321 

Attitude of Van Buren on politics of nation 
From Thomas Cooper 323 

Candidacy of Biddle for Presidency 
To Samuel Jaudon 324 

Attitude of Bank toward Government 
To Daniel Webster 325 

On Texas affair 
To Henry Clay 326 

On Texas affair 
From Daniel Webster 328 

On Texas affair 
From Henry Clay • . . . , 330 

On Texas affair 
From Thomas Cooper 333 

Suggestion of Biddle for Cabinet position 
To E. C. Biddle 334 

Relation of Government and Bank 
To John Forsyth 335 

Suggestion for President's message 
From John Forsyth 336 

Reply to Biddle's suggestions for President's message 
Personal card to Biddle from President Van Buren 337 
To Daniel Webster 337 

Seeks ambassadorship to Austria 
From Daniel Webster 339 

On ambassadorship to Austria 
To Daniel Webster 339 

On subject of Secretary of the Treasury in Cabinet 
From R. M. Blatchford 340 

On subject of the Sub-Treasury 
To Daniel Webster 341 

On President's inaugural 
From Daniel Webster 341 

On President's inaugural 
From Charles August Davis 342 

Death of President Harrison 
To John Tyler 342 

President Tyler and the Tariff Bill 
From John Tyler 343 

President Tyler and the Tariff Bill 
To Daniel Webster 344 

Advice to Daniel Webster 



Contents 



XXIX 



March 2, 1843 From D.(aniel) W.(ebster) 345 

Webster's position in the Cabinet 
March ii, 1843 From D.(aniel) W.(ebster) 345 

Webster's decision on Cabinet position 
March 4, 1843 To John Tyler 346 

On need of retaining Webster in Cabinet 
April 5, 1843 Memorandum of Biddle to Daniel Webster . . 348 

Suggestion of retreat for Webster 
April 24, 1843 to C. B. Penrose 351 

Suggestion to retain Webster in Cabinet 
Jan. 9, 1844 To Joseph Gales 352 

On politics of the day; Webster and Clay 
Jan. 9, 1844 To Daniel Webster 352 

On politics of the day 

Appendix 355 

Index 361 



Illustrations 



Nicholas BiDDLE Frontispiece 

From the portrait by Rembrandt Peale 

Nicholas Biddle 12 

From a miniature by B. Trott 

Nicholas Biddle 192 

From a miniature by Henry Inman 

Biddle's Home at Andalusia 342 



THE CORRESPONDENCE OF 

NICHOLAS BIDDLE 

DEALING WITH NATIONAL AFFAIRS 



THE CORRESPONDENCE 
OF NICHOLAS BIDDLE 

BiDDLE TO James Monroe 

London July 6*^ 1807 
Dear Sir 

The observations you made in our walk yesterday 
were of so interesting a nature, that I hope you will excuse 
my recurring to the subject of them. About to enter on a 
scene where I may not be permitted long to remain merely a 
spectator, & in which all my success will be influenced by my 
first steps, I feel a natural anxiety to prescribe a course of 
conduct which may become the rule of my political life. The 
violence of party ^ which disgraces our country is indeed dis- 
couraging to one who feels no disposition to become the fol- 
lower of any sect, or to mingle political animosities with the 
intercourse of society. But I have sometimes thought that 
the interests of the nation might be advanced without join- 

^ In 1806 James Monroe with Pinkney negotiated a treaty with England; and 
on October 29, 1807, he left England. On his return to America he "drew up an 
elaborate defense of his diplomatic conduct in England in a letter to Madison, 
which covers ten folio pages of the State papers. The enthusiasm with which he 
might have been received immediately after the Louisiana Purchase was damp- 
ened by his failure in the English negotiations. Politicians were already discuss- 
ing the presidential succession, the Republican party being divided in their 
preferences for Madison and Monroe. Jefferson endeavored to remain neutral; 
Wirt was in favor of Madison; at length the legislature of Virginia settled the 
choice by pronouncing in favor of the latter. Monroe's friends acquiesced. Soon 
afterwards Madison was placed and Monroe, after a brief interval, was reelected 
to the post of governor." Gilman, Daniel C, James Monroe (Boston, 1898), pp. 
105, 1 06. 



4 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

Ing those who think themselves exclusively its friends, and 
that even the intemperance of party would respect a manly 
independence founded on honor & maintained with firmness 
without descending to adopt the prejudices or to be guided 
by the passions of others. You Sir more than any other char- 
acter with whom it has been my happiness to be acquainted 
have passed thro' all the stages of political advancement 
honorable for yourself & useful to your country. From you 
therefore I am particularly desirous of receiving advice which 
would be useful to a person who like myself has a profession 
the pursuit of which is a primary object, but who from many 
motives aspires to any political distinction which may be ac- 
quired & preserved by honorable means. 

The kindness & confidence with which you have hitherto 
favored me as they are a principle inducement will I trust be 
at the same time the apology for this trouble. 

BiDDLE TO James Monroe 

Philad* June 21. 1809 
D' Sir 

It is so long since I have had the pleasure of hearing 
from you that I take the liberty of asking news of yourself 
& the family. I should indeed before this have acknowledged 
your kind letter, but there is you know a tranquil, one might 
say a happy uniformity which gives to American life but 
little variety of incidents, & it would be superfluous I trust 
to repeat the assurances of my respect & esteem. My young 
friend M' Walsh ^ whom you may recollect in London has 

* In 1819 Walsh established the National Gazette and remained the editor until 
1836 when he sold it to William Fry. Walsh was for a time a writer for Dennie's 
Portfolio of which Biddle was an associate editor for a number of years. Cf. sketch 



To yames Monroe 



just returned in the Pacific. With regard to our affairs, he 
left M"" Pinkney ^ under a strong impression that the modifi- 
cation of the Orders in Council was all that England meant 
to concede to this country. He had no idea of the more en- 
larged arrangement which has been made, or is expected at 
Washington. It seems singular that whilst negociating in 
London the ulterior views of the British government should 
have been concealed from him, & it would be unfortunate 
if in a matter of such consequence there should be any mis- 
apprehension. But the declaration of M'" Erskine ^ appear[s] 
full & explicit. M"^ M's observation of the pressure of the 
embargo rather confirms the opinion that we have only 
revealed the dangerous secret of our impotence — yet the ex- 
periment tho' dear may perhaps be valuable, since nations 
like men should learn to estimate their comparative value. 
All England is so much occupied with the Duke of York ^ 
that this new war in Austria has attracted very little atten- 
tion, & excited no expectation of success. Lord Holland still 
remains in Spain. M"" Burr was ordered to leave England, not 
as was stated at the requisition of the Spanish minister but 
from a belief that he was travelling over England for the pur- 
pose of collecting information which might render him after- 
wards acceptable to the French gov\ He had been at Edin- 
burgh & the gov' understanding his intention of going to Ire- 
land sent orders there to prevent his landing. . . . 

of life in Hudson, Frederic, Journalism in the United States, 1600-1872 (New York, 
1873). P- 322. 

^ William Pinkney, Minister to England. 

^ D. M. Erskine, British Minister to the United States. Erskine's difficulties 
are discussed in full in Channing, Edward, The Jeffersonian System (New York, 
1907). pp. 233-236. 

^ For the life and habits of the Duke of York, cf. Walpole, Spencer, A History 
of England since 1815 (New York, 1912), vol. i, pp. 131, 137, 283, 308. 



6 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

Robert Walsh to Biddle 

Baltimore July ii*'^ 1809 
My Dear Friend 

... I proceeded to our Capitol two days after my ar- 
rival here, in order to fulfill my mission & was greeted with 
all the courtesy I could wish. Fortunately the House had not 
terminated its sittings & accordingly afforded me an oppor- 
tunity of forming some judgment of its character. I attended 
two long debates & could [have] desired to have you at my 
side at the time. Never most assuredly was there exhibited a 
more disgusting caricature of legislation. I did not expect to 
find much wisdom among them, but was truly surprised to dis- 
cover that the aff"airs of any nation could by any possibility 
be managed by men such as the members of the House of 
Representatives. I had several meetings with the President 
and Secretary of State ^ & saw much reason to be satisfied 
with the Intentions of both. I can not venture to give an opin- 
ion as to their talents. In my conferences with the Presi- 
dent, I discovered a feeling towards England much more 
conciliatory than his former policies entitled me to expect. 

Robert Walsh to Biddle 

Baltimore August i^ 1809 
My Dear Biddle 

... I had some conversation with M"" Erskine on his 
way to your city; but not on his return to Washington. As I 
never entertained a doubt concerning the fate of his arrange- 
ments, I was not a little surprized at the satisfaction and con- 
fidence which he manifested on that subject. If our admln- 

* Robert Smith of Maryland. 



From yames Monroe 



istration were admitted to a view of his instructions, they 
must have foreseen the result & were in my opinion highly 
censurable for acquiescing in so extraordinary an assumption 
of authority on the part of the Minister. M"" Madison, to 
whom I communicated my apprehensions, seemed perfectly 
sure of the validity of the whole negociation. There must be 
still some lurking fallacy in this business — I confess that the 
whole is a mystery to me. Whoever has been in England or 
has attended to the management of affairs in that country, 
must at once see the impossibility of a collusion between the 
ministry & their envoy — or of perfidy in the former. Neither 
could escape the sagacity of the opposition — & no ministry 
could expect to weather the storm which the exposure of so 
detestable a fraud would collect over their heads. It may, 
moreover, be easily shewn, that no views whatever of public 
or private utility could be answered by such a proceeding; or 
could have been in the contemplation of sensible men. I re- 
gret, therefore, that any federalist should countenance an 
idea every way unjust and eminently injurious to the good 
cause among ourselves. 

James Monroe » to Biddle 

{Confidential) Washington May 5, 18 15 

My dear Sir 

I have yours of the 28 ulto. and am much gratified to 
find that we agree in every circumstance as to the dangers 
with which we*are menac'd by the late events in France,^ and 
the precautions we ought to take to avoid them. It would I 

* Secretary of State and of War in the Cabinet of President Madison, 18 14- 
1815. 

2 For the last years of Napoleon's career cf. Rose, J. H., Lije of Napoleon I (New 
York, 1902), chs. 37-41. 



8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

think be Improper to suffer our squadron to sail for the Medi- 
teranean or to disband our army, untill we saw more distinctly 
what were likely to be the consequences of those events, es- 
pecially as to the U States. It is probable, or rather certain, 
that Boniparte will claim to the Rhine; and that will produce 
a war with England, if she can form such a combination of 
force as promises to make head against him. If Austria is on 
his side I should not be surprised if there should be a general 
acquiescence in his restoration, provided all France is in his 
favor(.?), as circumstances indicate. The British nation must 
be fatigued with the war in Europe, with that with the U 
States, and Its disasterous termination at N. Orl: Their 
finances are embarrassed. Repose has been caught at with 
avidity, and the mortification must be extreme when it is 
seen that the prospect of it is snatched from them, and that a 
new struggle is to be encountered, more burthensome perhaps 
than that through which they have already passed, to place 
them at the point at which they lately stood, if it Is ( ?) even 
practicable. It is equally doubtful, whether, as Russia may 
have relinquished her claims on Poland, she can be brought 
to bear on France, and without her aid, the attempt of Eng- 
land & Prussia would be a desperate one. I think it Is not Im- 
probable that Spain will be neutralized, by events at home. 
Fer*^.^ has cut off the heads of many of those who fought for 
his restoration; reinstated the inquisition, and revolted the 
feelings of the whole nation. The contest for him was a kind 
of revolutionary mov'ment; It was certainly a national one, 
in which a species of popular gov^ ruled. He has put himself 

1 Ferdinand VII of Spain. For a discussion of the events of this reign consult 
Seignobos, Charles, A Political History of Europe (trans, by S. M. Macvane, New 
York, 1899), pp. 289-291. 



From Clement C. Biddle 



against that gov*., and against that mov'ment. The restora- 
tion of Bonaparte by the will of the nation, operating as 
it were by free suffrage, will revive revolutionary feelings in 
France, which may extend to Spain, under the existing cir- 
cumstances there. If however Bonaparte takes to the Rhine, 
& Egld declares war, she may strike at us as in the former 
wars. This is the moment when we may fix our entring in 
such a struggle, sho^. it occur; for on the part which we now 
act, it may depend, whether we shall [have] pass'd successfully 
thro it, possessed of the firmness & gallantry displayed in the 
late war, or made their exertions in vain. If we take a de- 
cisive tone at once, we may & probably shall command the 
respect of both parties. If we hesitate, we shall [be] as sure 
of their contempt. . . . 

Clement C. Biddle ^ to Biddle 

Philad^ 24. Dec^ 18 15. 
My dear Nicholas, 

Your letter of the 20. inst. for which, permit me to 
thank you, was rec^. yesterday. I shall avail myself of your 
kind intimations respecting the letters, and forward them 
to you by the first private hand. . i ^ 

I cannot but exceedingly regret the failure of your bill for 
an immediate leirj of a regular State force, satisfied, as I am, 
of the insufficiency of any scheme by voluntary enlistment, of 
obtaining the men (independent of their proper organization, 
and discipline fit for service) before the middle of the ensuing 
summer, — if even by that time. My opinion is formed from 

^ Clement C. Biddle, a cousin of Nicholas Biddle and a son of Clement Biddle 
of Revolutionary fame. Commanded the Pennsylvania Regiment of Light Infan- 
try Volunteers in 1812-1814, afterwards distinguished in civil life. 



lo Correspondence of Nicholas Biddk 

my own experience in the recruiting service, when we were 
abundantly supplied with funds, — and from conversations 
which I have recently had with the officer (col. Clemson) 
now superintending that service in this district. 

From a perusal of the Bill, which is now before you, the 
following objections objections have presented themselves 
to me. Sect, i^^ Line 4*^. In lieu of a Regiment say a Battalion 
of Artillery, which will conform to the organization of the 
U.S. Artillery: they having no Regiments, but twelve Bat- 
talions of four companies each, commanded by a Lieut. Col. 
or Major. This will give a large proportion of Artillery for 
four Reg*^ of Infantry, viz. one tenth of the Inf^. General 
Scott says one twentieth is sufficient. Sect. 2^. line 6'^'' after the 
organization of a Reg', let that of the Battalion of Artillery 
come according to the U.S. viz. Four Companies — Field 
of Staff, — I Lieut. Col. i Adjut. i Quarter Master, i Pay 
Master, the Surgeon, the surgeon's mate, i Sergeant Major, 
I Quarter Master Sergeant and 2 Principal musicians. Line 
9*^^. The U.S. organization of a Company of Artillery is much 
better than that of the Bill : it is I captain, i first Lieut. 2 
second lieut's {one of which is Conductor of Military Stores, 
and has charge, and is responsible, for the ordnance &c &c.) 
I third lieut. i quarter master sergeant, 5 sergeants, 8 cor- 
porals, 4 musicians and 100 privates. Line ii*^^. The number 
of Non Commissioned officers and privates of a company of 
Riflemen should be the same as that of Infantry. It is in the 
U.S. service — the five officers are quite sufficient for the com- 
mand of ninety men, and a company, which when full had but 
sixty eight men, w^ not generally have in the field above forty, 
which are too few, particularly where there are so many com- 
pany officers. There is an additional reason for increasing the 



From Clement C, Biddle 



1 1 



strength of the Rifle corps, to wit, in the French and most of 
the European services, the Tiraileurs or Light Infantry bear 
to the Infantry of the Line, at least the proportion of one to 
three, whereas even after this augmentation, they w^ in this 
Bill only bear the proportion of one to four, and without it of 
one to six, only half that of the French, when our Coun- 
try requires a greater proportion. Sect. 3 Line 5^''. In order 
to make this enumeration complete Brigade Majors sh'* be 
added, and besides Assistants and Deputies, there sh^ be As- 
sistant Deputies, there being officers with that title in the 
U.S. service. This section seems to imply that in the U.S. 
service the Adjutant & Inspector Generals must be taken 
from the line of officers, which is not the case, and they are 
frequently taken from Citizens, as in the cases of Col^. 
Duane, Drayton, Powell & others. The U.S. regulations re- 
quire their Assistants to be taken from the line of officers. 
Also In the Quarter Master's Department in the U.S. service, 
none of the officers can be taken from the line of officers. Ac- 
cording to the U.S. regulations Six Regiments should make 
three Brigades. 

Should there not be an additional section giving the officers 
rank over all officers of the militia and Volunteers of the same 
grade.'' 

It may be observed that wherever this Bill differs from the 
organization of the U.S. army as to the number of officers, 
non-commissioned officers and privates In a Reg^ or comp^ 
it is defective, as great attention has been paid to that subject 
in the U.S. service, and many alterations made before the 
present organization was adopted. 

In lieu of the six companies of artillery which It Is proposed 
to strike out, let there be four troops of Dragoons, formed 



1 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

Into a Squadron under a major, organized as in the U.S. serv- 
ice, which will then complete the formation of a "Legion," 
which this Bill contemplates. A Small corps of Cavalry will 
be much wanted. 

Excuse the irregularity with which the foregoing remarks 
are drawn up, & beleive me with perfect esteem & regard 

BiDDLE TO James Monroe 

Phil^. Jan^. 31. 18 19 
My dear sir, 

I have received by this day's mail your letter of the 
29*^ announcing your having nominated me one of the Direc- 
tors of the Bank of the U.S. I need not say that I consider 
this rememberance a proof of that uniform kindness & friend- 
ship on your part which I value so highly, and as such I beg 
you to accept my thanks for it. I have however little con- 
cern with Banks & have hitherto declined sharing in the man- 
agement of the institution when It was proposed to me by the 
stockholders. Yet I am unwilling to avoid any duty by which 
you think I can be of service. 

The truth Is, that with all its faults, the Bank is of vital 
Importance to the finances of the gov^ and an object of great 
interest to the community. That it has been perverted to 
selfish purposes cannot be doubted — that It may — & must 
— be renovated Is equally certain. But they who undertake 
to reform abuses & particularly of that description, must en- 
counter much hostility & submit to much labor. To these, the 
hope of being useful can alone reconcile me — and if I should 
undertake the task I shall endeavor to persevere till the 
character of the Institution is reestablished. 



Nicholas B'uidle 

From a miniature hy E. Trott 



From yames Monroe 1 3 



John McKim Jr.^ to Biddle 

Baltimore Jan^. S''^. 1820 
Dear Sir 

M^ Riggin, who was nominated by me, and Elected 
one of the RepubHcan Directors of the Branch here, having 
Resigned, M^ Alex'. M^'Kim was nominated last Tuesday to 
fill the Vacancy. I am sure no man in Baltimore would give 
more satisfaction to the Citizens of this place than he Would, 
if Elected, and at the same time the Board here would have 
an opportunity of making him their President, If they chose. 

I now wish you to attend to this Election, as you know 
that the Republicans are one short of their number, and the 
necessity of giving us our Share of the Direction, as we do 
hold more then the half of the Stock, and it having been 
Policy to divide the two Party, in the direction, Since the 
Bank was Established.^ 

I know that you can Manage this in your usual good, & 
Handsome manner, which has often gave me great Pleasure. 

James Monroe to Biddle 

Washington April 11. 1820 
Dear Sir 

... A representation has I understand been made to 
the directors of the national bank respecting a change in the 
Direction of the branch in Lexington K^., which it is thought 

* Director of the Bank, 1835-1836. A trusted adviser at Baltimore along with 
Robert Oliver and R. L, Colt. 

^ This letter shows how solicitous the Bank men were to keep the political 
parties absolutely balanced even before Biddle entered upon his presidency. The 
later correspondence will show Biddle's policy on this most crucial question of 
the administration. 



14 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

will produce a good effect there, & promote the general inter- 
est of the institution. Being well acquainted with the leading 
characters of that State, and my attention being drawn to 
the subject last summer, as I passed through it, at the par- 
ticular request of some residing there, in whom I have the 
highest confidence, I enclose you a note of several, who I think 
very deserving of the appointment. The effect which may be 
produced, by a judicious selection of persons, for that trust, in 
conciliating the public opinion to the institution, you will 
fully appreciate. I make this communication to you in con- 
fidence, & am ... 

BiDDLE TO James Monroe 

Andalusia October 8. 1820. 
My dear Sir, 

You will I am sure feel some interest in the inclosed 
paper which I have thought it advisable to publish in order 
to correct some deeply rooted prejudices against some of the 
measures of the last war. Having never taken any formal no- 
tice of them till now, I believed that after so long a time it 
was right to state distinctly what it was I had really done, to 
excite the violence of that period. As far as I can learn, its ef- 
fect upon fair & liberal minds has been such as I could wish. 
Nevertheless it will not contribute at all to my election 
which will be decided by very different considerations. Ac- 
cording to the unfortunate system of nomination prevailing 
here, it is always in the power of a cabal to take from the 
people all share in the real business of an election. Thus for 
instance I was originally nominated by both sections of the 
Republican party — by a Committee of the friends of M"" 
Findlay & a Committee of the friends of M" Heister. But the 



71? yames Monroe 1-5 

latter were so anxious to secure his election, that finding the 
federalists unwilling [to] vote for their candidate M"^ Heister 
unless M"" Heister's friends in return would vote for the federal 
members of Congress, they reassembled & in order to secure 
the federal votes for M"" Heister gave up their Congress ticket 
altho' it had been formally agreed upon & published. My sup- 
port therefore will be from one section only of the republicans 
— the other at the head of whom is Duane opposing my elec- 
tion, not as he himself avowed to a friend of mine from any 
personal hostility to me, but because I was well disposed to 
the administration of the general gov*. Another very efficient 
motive with that individual is that my nomination excluded 
his own son. Such are the springs which move our election. 
The district is in truth a perfect chaos of small factions & as 
I have shunned all participation in their Intrigues I do not 
anticipate the slightest chance of being elected. The only 
object of any importance is to rally the sound part of the 
population against the decided hostility to the general gov*^ 
which animates some of the demagogues — & that I think 
can be accomplished. Will you present my best respects to 
M" Monroe . . . 

The opposition Is formed of a union of the federalists with 
the friends of M"" Heister. The latter consist of two divisions, 
one willing to sacrifice every thing for M*" Heister, the other 
at the head of whom is Duane, in addition to the same motive 
are stimulated by the pleasure of opposing one whom they 
know to be friendly to the administration of the general gov\ 
This reason is distinctly avowed by their leader who at the 
same time professes to have no personal hostility to me. Such 
are the secret springs which will control the election. 



6 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



To the Electors of the City and County of Philadelphia, 
and the County of Delaware. 

I understand that many estimable persons among you, re- 
tain unkind feelings toward me from a belief that during the 
late war, I proposed to establish in Pennsylvania the French 
system of military conscription. This reproach was widely 
circulated at that period. But I was then too anxious about 
the defence of the country, to care about defending myself, 
and I therefore never in any way noticed it, presuming that 
when the violence of party passions should subside, men 
would return to more just and liberal sentiments. I should 
still persevere in the same silence, but I think it due to those 
gentlemen, who have done me the honor to connect my name 
with the approaching election for members of congress, to 
remove an impression which may be injurious. If then it be 
true, that there is any individual, who forgetting the dan- 
gers of the war, remembers only its prejudices, he will perhaps 
find in the following statement, some reason to think that he 
has been unjust to me. 

The assertion is, that I proposed to introduce the French 
system of conscription. - . ■* 

The fact is, that I never proposed any thing resembling the 
French conscription; — that what I did propose, was a system 
practised in Pennsylvania, long before the French conscrip- 
tion was in existence; — and that the very design and effect 
of it was to avoid a conscription, that is a militia draft which 
is in principle, very nearly the same mode of levying troops. 

A few words will make this evident. The French system of 
conscription is this. All the men between twenty and twenty- 
five years of age, are divided into classes. When a class is 



71? yames Monroe 1 7 

called into service, each man of the class must find a sub- 
stitute or march, or what to the mass of the citizens is 
precisely the same thing, pay sixteen dollars a month. The 
nature of the two services is of course different, from the 
peculiar circumstances, and the different forms of government 
in the two countries; but as mere modes of military levy 
they are evidently similar. 

Now what I have proposed was this. Every twenty- two 
men above eighteen years of age, were to furnish a soldier to 
serve for the defence of the state, during twelve months. If 
they did not, the proper officer was to provide one, and di- 
vide the expense among the twenty-two. But before doing 
this, such of the twenty-two as were liable to military duty 
drew lots. If the person on whom the lot fell consented to 
serve, he received a contribution of two hundred dollars from 
his neighbors. If he did not, the price of a substitute should 
exceed two hundred dollars, he was to pay the excess, which 
was limited to two hundred dollars more. 

All this might be a good or a bad system, but one thing at 
least is clear, that it is totally unlike the French system, and 
much less like the French conscription than our own militia 
law, which it was intended to supercede. 

But in fact, the mode of raising a military force at that 
time, was not a question of general policy, but of immediate 
expediency — not how to frame a permanent system, but how 
to provide against a sudden emergency. It was necessary to 
raise within ten weeks, that is between the middle of Janu- 
ary, before which no law could pass, and the month of April, 
when Philadelphia might be assailed, an adequate force for 
its protection. To procure these troops by voluntary enlist- 
ments, was utterly hopeless; for the United States army had. 



1 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

during more than two years, gleaned every idler in the state; 
and even had there been time, the commonwealth had neither 
land to promise, nor bounty money to pay to recruits. To rely 
exclusively on occasional drafts of militia, hastily levied at 
every fresh alarm, was to entrust the fate of the city to a sys- 
tem the most oppressive to the citizen, the most expensive 
to the community, and the least efficient against the enemy. 
Believing then the voluntary enlistment too slow and too 
dear, and the militia draft too weak and too burdensome, 
I proposed that which promised to be at once prompt, equal, 
and efficient. I thought then, and I think still, that it had 
many decided advantages over the other plans. The first, 
and the most important was, that by it, and by it alone could 
nine thousand well officered men be brought into the field in 
six weeks, without any demand on the state treasury — the 
second was, that being chiefly composed of substitutes who 
would probably reinlist, the force could be retained as long as 
it should be wanted — the third was, that it was much more 
favourable to the poorer citizens, than the militia law. By that 
law, if a militia man leaves home, neither he nor his family 
receive any indemnity; and if he stays at home, he pays for 
a years delinquency, one hundred and ninety-two dollars. 
By the proposed bill, if he left home he received two hundred 
dollars; if he staid at home he paid, except in an extraordinary 
case, only the twenty-second part of the price of a substitute. 
Instead moreover of being a dangerous novelty, it had all 
the merit of successful experience. It was an old Pennsyl- 
vania plan. In the year 1780, a law passed dividing the people 
into classes, each of which was to furnish a man to serve in 
the army of the United States during the war, and a delin- 
quent class was to pay fifteen pounds specie or current money, 



To yames Monroe 



equivalent, which was one thousand one hundred and twenty- 
five pounds currency. 

A second act, passed in 1781, by which, if a class was de- 
linquent, a substitute was to be procured without limitation 
of price, at the expense of the class. 

A comparison of the levy of 1780, with that of 18 15, will 
show how little reason Philadelphia would have had to com- 
plain of the latter. By the law of 1780, the city and county 
of Philadelphia was bound to furnish eight hundred and 
ninety-five men, to serve in the United States army during 
the war. By the proposed law, the city and county, with per- 
haps three times the population, and twenty times the wealth 
of 1780, would have been bound to furnish, for its own exclu- 
sive defence during one year, about one thousand, or eleven 
hundred men. 

Let me now ask any fair and candid man, in what part of 
this proposed measure is there any thing unjust or oppressive 
— any thing which violates the rights, or wounds the interests 
of a single individual — if it be not milder than the militia 
law — more practicable than an enlistment system — and 
unless the city was prepared to submit quietly to shame and 
pillage, what mode of organizing resistance could be more im- 
mediate, energetic and just.? But supposing it not to be the 
best plan, supposing it to be a wrong plan. That would be 
a fit reason for preferring some other, but it surely is not a 
fair subject of reproach against the proposer, who could not 
possibly have had any personal or selfish motive, and who, if 
he erred, could have been mislead only by mistaken zeal. So 
unwilling indeed was I, that any mere pride of opinion on my 
part should Interfere with the public service, that I at the 
same time, supported and voted for an enlistment bill, under 



2 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

an impression that the few who could be raised by it, would 
be at least so much gained for our defence — and when my 
own proposal was lost in the house of representatives, was 
one of a committee who immediately proposed a bill for 
raising volunteers, on which the senate were engaged the 
day when peace was announced. 

I proposed and supported these measures from a con- 
viction, that the state of the country demanded a vigorous 
effort to save it, and I should have consented to any thing 
which would call forth its resources without being very fas- 
tidious as to forms. And truly if eight thousand men were 
willing to come from the interior to our assistance, it did 
seem to be a matter of utter insignificance to the citizens 
of Philadelphia, whether they came out of classes of twenty- 
two, or classes of any other number. That they came at 
all — that they came well armed — well officered and well 
paid — rnight, I think, have satisfied the most scrupulous, 
and furnished an apology at least for the system which 
brought them. 

I have now finished the original purpose of this note, but 
the subject induces me to add a few words on the general 
measures of that time. 

In the autumn of 1814, I was elected to represent this 
district in the senate. You all remember the condition of 
the country. Washington had been taken — Baltimore at- 
tacked — a large British fleet and army were on the coast, 
able suddenly to strike any assailable point. Against this 
danger, Philadelphia was totally unprepared. She relied on 
the general government, until the failure of the military 
proposals in congress announced to the states, that they 
must provide for their own safety. From that moment it 



71? yames Monroe 2 1 

became my duty to secure the means of defending the capi- 
tal. It was manifest that unless a force could be collected 
before the navigation of the Delaware opened, Philadel- 
phia was at the mercy of the enemy. We wanted then a 
naval defence — we wanted a stationary land force, in 
aid of the militia — we wanted arms — we wanted money. 
That none of these were neglected, will be seen by the legis- 
lative journals of that day, which I cite, because they offer 
a simple and unquestionable statement of facts. 

Extract the Senate Journal, 1814-15, p. 104. January 
4th, 1815. 

"Amotion was made by Mr. Biddle and Mr. Lowrle, and 
read as follows. Resolved, that a committee be appointed 
to Inquire Into the expediency of raising by drafts from the 
militia, a corps of eight thousand men, to serve during 
twelve months for the defence of Pennsylvania and the 
adjoining states, with leave to report by bill or otherw^Ise. 
Resolved, that the same committee be Instructed to in- 
quire into the expediency of procuring one or more steam 
frigates, steam batteries, or other means of defence for the 
protection of the shores of Delaware, with leave to report 
by bill or otherwise. Resolved, that the same committee be 
instructed to Inquire Into the expediency of borrowing a 
sum not exceeding one million of dollars, to be employed 
solely for the defence of this state — with leave to report 
by bill or otherwise. 

"On motion, said resolutions were severally read, con- 
sidered, and adopted, and ordered that Mr. Biddle, Mr. 
Lowrle, Mr. Forster, Mr. Fralley and Mr. Beale, be a com- 
mittee for the purpose expressed in said resolutions." 

In two days — January 6th, 1815. Page no. 



2 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

"Mr. Biddle from the committee appointed for the pur- 
pose on the fourth instant, reported an act to raise a mili- 
tary force for the defence of this commonwealth." This 
passed the senate on the 14th of January. 

On the 13th January — Page 128. 

"Mr. Biddle from the committee appointed for the pur- 
pose on the fourth instant reported a bill entitled an act 
to authorize a loan of one million of dollars, for the defence 
of this commonwealth." The loan was to be at seven per 
cent, and to be applied exclusively "to defray any expenses 
which may be incurred in military or naval preparations 
for the defence of this commonwealth." 

On investigation it appeared that the steam frigates 
could not be built in time, and that the approach to the 
city might be adequately defended, by strengthening the 
United States flotilla in the Delaware. It consisted of 
twenty-seven boats and vessels, but such was the desperate 
state of the recruiting service, that this armament had only 
about one fifth of its complement; and a large part of its 
crew were to be discharged in April. The commander was 
requested to state distinctly, what number of men would 
render his flotilla perfectly efiicient, and what bounties 
would procure them. He did so, but, that in a service so 
important nothing should be left to hazard, the number of 
men as well as the bounties, were increased beyond his esti- 
mates. 
Accordingly, January 25th, 1815: 

"Mr. Biddle read in his place, and on permission pre- 
sented to the chair a bill, entitled 'An act granting addi- 
tional emoluments to seamen, employed in the defence of 
this commonwealth.'" This bill passed February ist. 



To yames Monroe 2 3 

Of arms the state possessed enough to equip the new 
levies, (Senate Journal, p. 21,) but that every thing which 
promised to be useful, might be pressed into the public 
service. 

"On motion of Mr. Biddle and Mr. Graham, the follow- 
ing resolution was twice read, considered, and adopted. Re- 
solved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the 
nature and advantages of Chamber's repeating guns, and 
the expediency of employing them in the service of the 
state." Senate Journal, p. 46. 

Page 6^]. "Mr. Biddle, from the committee appointed 
on the isth, to inquire Into the nature and advantages of 
Chamber's repeating guns, made report as follows," &c. 
&c. Concluding with a resolution to purchase fifty swivels, 
and to have five hundred muskets altered to the new plan. 

These documents prove that, within a few days after 
the duty of protecting the capital, devolved on the legis- 
lature, an efficient system of defence was proposed and 
passed In the Senate; a system, which before the month of 
April, would have placed between Philadelphia and its en- 
emy, a strong flotilla, capable of being speedily reinforced, 
by all the naval resources of the city; and a well officered 
army in aid of the local militia; a system, which would 
have shielded the city from all danger and all alarm during 
the war. 

Of the energy and patriotism of those gentlemen, from 
the Interior, who co-operated with me, and who, although 
remote from the capital, readily and zealously took their 
share in its defence, I can never speak nor feel too warmly. 
Nor did I permit myself to question the motives of those 
who opposed any of these measures. I knew them too well, 



2 4 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

not to ascribe their opposition to a fair and honourable 
difference of opinion. But I also had some right to a liberal 
construction of my own views. In executing the duties as- 
signed to me, I had endeavoured to do what was useful, not 
what was agreeable; and never having sought to please, 
not to have pleased, would have been a subject neither of 
surprise, nor mortification. But I could not easily antici- 
pate, that after a laborious and anxious struggle to pro- 
vide for the defence of my own native city against foreign 
enemies, after securing the aid of patriotic men from the 
country, willing to partake in the expense and the dangers 
of that defence, I should become an object of denunciation 
in that very city; should have been put under a sort of 
political proscription/ avowedly for my activity in striving 
to protect it. 

There was about the same time another measure, to 
which from my share in it, it may be well to advert. When 
Massachusetts and Connecticut proposed to Pennsylvania, 
the changes in the constitution, originally projected at 
the convention of Hartford,^ it appeared to me after very 
deliberate examination that their inevitable effect would 
be to loosen the whole structure of the confederation, and 
that they were therefore more dangerous to the country 
than the foreign armies which threatened it. The discussion 
of these proposals had in every quarter, inflamed to their 
utmost violence the feelings of the community. I thought 
then that Pennsylvania, neutral in its position, yet em- 
bracing nearly all the Interests on which these changes 

1 For a full discussion of Biddle's activities during the War of 1812 and the 
results of the Congressional election of 1820 cf. sketch of life by Conrad, R. T., in 
National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans (by James B. Longacre and 
James Herring, Philadelphia, 1839), vol. iii, pp. 8-10. 



71? yames Monroe 2 5 

would operate, might usefully Interpose its calm strength 
between the passions of its neighbours, and by a course of 
mingled decision and gentleness, reclaim them to milder 
feelings towards each other. The report on the amendments 
was hastily drawn in the midst of other occupations, and 
much of It written on the road to Harrisburgh. It of course 
has no pretension as to form. But if my recollection does 
not deceive me, its general tone was fair and impartial, 
it imputed no unworthy motives, it contained no phrase 
which could wound even any member of that convention, 
it discussed the proposals with candor, nor was there the 
slightest departure from that courtesy, which among in- 
dependent states, is at once the proof and the security of 
mutual respect. Yet this paper it seems has been the sub- 
ject or the pretext of much censure upon its author. 

Of all these things I have never complained. I do not 
now complain. Their singularity has much oftener tempted 
me to smile at finding myself reproached not by the men 
of the country, for calling them from their homes, but 
by the men of the city, because in suddenly raising nine 
thousand soldiers for its defence, I had been guilty of ar- 
ranging them into classes of twenty-two. It is right how- 
ever, to say that if during the war I persevered in these 
measures in opposition to prejudices, which I saw were 
estranging from me many honest and amiable citizens, and 
if I have suffered nearly six years to pass without any effort 
to remove them, my silence has proceeded rather from a 
disregard of what was merely personal to myself, than from 
any insensibility to the good will of the community. I do 
not feel and I will not affect any such indifference. I have 
lived long enough to know that the kindly feelings of those 



2 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

who surround us, are among our best and safest enjoyments. 
But even that good will may be too dearly purchased, and 
I am quite sure that the applause of others, could never 
console me for the loss of my own esteem. That I should 
have forfeited irretrievably, if at a season of great national 
disaster, when not merely the safety, but the honor of the 
state was menaced, when all the free institutions of this 
country were rocking to their foundations, I should from 
any spirit of faction, or the despicable dread of being what 
is called unpopular, have shrunk from any one duty of the 
station in which your confidence had placed me.^ 

Nicholas Biddle. 

BiDDLE TO 2 

And^ Oct^ 29. 1822 
Dear Sir, 

I have received your letter of the 26'^'' Inst, in rela- 
tion to the Presidency of the Bank, and shall cheerfully 
give as you request such views of the subject as my service 
in the Bank & my acquaintance with the community may 
suggest. 

If the Bank were in a prosperous situation with an effi- 
cient Direction & a full complement of experienced officers 
the President might, be as so many Presidents, are, a gentle- 
man of high character to do the honors of the Bank with- 

^ For a discussion of the Hartford Convention consult Babcock, K. C, The 
Rise of American Nationality (New York, 1907), pp. 161-166. 

2 This letter, although it has no definite address, is undoubtedly written to 
one of the directors of the Bank. The Biddle Correspondence contains a number 
of letters from different members of the board urging Biddle to present his views 
on the qualifications of a President and subtly hinted the desirability of his ap- 
pearing as a candidate; and it is evidently in reply to one of these requests that 
the above letter was drafted. 



ro 



27 



out much attention to its business. But you well know that 
the Bank of the U.S. is deficient in these respects and the 
next President must have such a decided influence over 
its management as very materially to affect its future for- 
tunes. He should if possible therefore unite in his person 
these qualifications, talent for business — standing with 
the gov*. & residence in Phil*. 

\st. I say talent for business rather than what is commonly 
called a man of business — for without meaning at all to 
disparage the knowledge of details which men of business 
are presumed to possess I am quite satisfied from what I 
have myself seen at the Bank that the mere men of busi- 
ness are by no means the most efficient in the administra- 
tion. The fact is that the misfortunes of the Bank which 
grew principally out of the injudicious extension of the 
Western Branches ^ were actually occasioned by the men of 
business & their errors were precisely the faults into which 
the men of business were most likely to fall. They trusted 
the Western people with money — as they trusted them 
with goods — and suffered themselves to be deluded by 
the visions & currencies of equalizing exchanges more & 
liberal habits of thinking would have easily dispelled be- 
cause without intending reflections, there are not in the 
Bank such a set of officers as there should be — & the 
personal inspection of a President is therefore the more 
necessary. 

2. He should be known to, & stand well with the Gov*^ — 
not an active partizan — not even a party man — but a 
man in whom the gov*^ would confide. I am far from think- 

^ On the administration of Langdon Cheves, cf. Catterall, R. C. H., 77w 
Second Bank of the United States (1903), chap. m. 



2 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

ing that the gov* should have any direct or indirect influence 
over the Bank — on the contrary the less of it which exists 
the better for both. But the gov*^ is a great stockholder and 
a great customer — and as the gov* Directors cannot exer- 
cise the same degree of concert & previous communication 
as the rest of the Directors & stockholders do. It would be 
not unwise to consult to a certain extent the feelings of the 
gov* where the great interests of the Bank may depend so 
much on its countenance & protection. 
3. His being a Philadelphian tho' not an essential is yet 
a desirable circumstance. The Bank has by a combination 
of circumstances become so odious in Phil^., that it is ex- 
ceedingly difficult as you well know to procure a competent 
Direction. There are certainly all the materials of an excel- 
lent Board, if they would consent to rally round any one 
individual — and the character of the Bank will wholly 
depend on the local Board, the Distant Directors are in 
fact from the very nature of things rather ornamental than 
useful. Now I fear that a stranger would not easily obtain 
the aid of such a Board as ought to be collected. If yet such 
is the importance of that circumstance that I am not sure 
whether the wisest plan would not be first to make a list of 
20 Directors & the best names of the City & then see under 
what President 15 or 16 of them would consent to serve — 
and name him accordingly. . . . 

John C. Calhoun to Biddle 

Washington 2 Decb 1822 
Dear Sir, 

Feeling as I do deep solicitude in the prosperity of 
the Bank, I have been very much gratified with your nom- 



To jfohn C, Calhoun 29 

ination to the Presidency of that institution and most sin- 
cerely hope, that you may be elected. 

... If at any time, I can render aid to the institution, it 
will afford me much pleasure,<-and should you be elected, 
of which there can be no reasonable doubt, the pleasure 
would be still farther advanced by cooperating, as with the 
present President, with one for whom I have so great an 
esteem. 

BiDDLE TO John C. Calhoun 

Phll^ Dec^ 6, 1822 
Dear Sir, 

I had the pleasure last night of receiving your letter 
of the 2^ inst, & thank you with great cordiality for the 
friendly dispositions which dictated it. The course which 
I have hitherto prescribed to myself, has been neither to 
seek nor to shun a situation of so much responsibility, but 
if I am called to share in the administration of the Bank, 
I shall bring to its service at least a laborious & zealous de- 
votion to its interests. This unfortunate institution has 
from its birth been condemned to struggle with the most 
perplexing difficulties, yet even with all its embarrassments 
it has sustained the national currency & rescued the coun- 
try from the dominition of irresponsible banks, & their 
depreciated circulation. The time has perhaps arrived when 
it may combine its own & the country's security with a more 
enlarged development of its resources and a wider extension 
of its sphere of usefulness. To this object to which my own 
exertions shall be anxiously directed. 1 have long known and 
appreciated the manly & decisive services which you have 
rendered to the same cause — & if I should see any occa- 



30 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

sion In which the Bank may avail itself of your assistance I 
shall ask it with the same frankness & sincerity with which 
I now assure you of the great personal respect & esteem of 

Biddle to Campbell P. White ^ 

(Private) Bank of the U.S. 

Feb. 3, 1823 
Sir, 

Your letter of the 2^. Inst: has just reached me. Our 
mutual friend M"". Colt ^ has already apprized me of the 
advantage which I might expect from your confidential 
communication, & your letter satisfies me that he has not 
overrated the value of them. I beg you to believe that I shall 
always be gratified at hearing from you whenever any thing 
occurs which you deem interesting and that I am perfectly 
prepared always to reciprocate your confidence. 

It Is my anxious desire to see your Ofiice at the head of 
the business of N. York, and for that purpose not to suifer 
itself to be encumbered with state Bank balances, nor with 
more debts from Southern Offices than necessarily grow 
out of the receipt of their paper and a profitable and ac- 
commodating exchange business. The practice here is this. 
Every morning the Clerks from this Bank and the State 
Banks meet and Inter change the notes received respec- 
tively on the preceeding day. The Balances are Struct ac- 
cordingly — but no Bank ever calculates on Its Balance 

' Merchant and Congressman of New York. 

' Roswell L. Colt. A director of the Baltimore Branch from 1816 to 1819. 
Colt was undoubtedly the closest financial adviser of Biddle and one to whom the 
latter always referred in time of trouble. He was in touch with all the financial 
conditions of the country and the correspondence shows that Nicholas Biddle 
frequently followed his advice on political as well as financial affairs. 



TJ? Robert Lenox 3 1 

remaining for any length of time & whenever it grows a 
little too large, no Bank ever hesitates to send for ten or 
fifteen or twenty thousand dollars from its debtor. We had 
the other day a draft for ^25,000 — from one of our City 
Banks which was paid as cheerfully & with as little sensa- 
tion as if it had been a check for $25. Whenever there is a 
draft from an individual for Specie to any amount the State 
Banks are made to pay it if their Balances allow it. Thus it 
goes round — no one complains and every one is Satisfied. 
In truth, it is only when these balances accumulate & re- 
main for any length of time that they become oppressive to 
both parties and excite mutual ill will. You have now a fine 
oportunity of establishing and maintaining your preemi- 
nence and I hope anxiously that it will not be lost. The other 
subjects of your letter will receive an early attention, but 
my occupations this morning allow me time only to acknowl- 
edge the receipt of it thus briefly & to add that I am 

BiDDLE TO Robert Lenox ^ 

Bank of the United States 
Feb^. 3, 1823 
Sir, 

. . . The view which I have of the true policy of the 
Bank is this. We have had enough & more than enough of 
banking in the interior. We have been crippled & almost 
destroyed by It. It is time to concenter our business — to 
bank where there is some use & some profit in it, and there- 
fore (while anxious to do business in the interior the mo- 

1 Robert Lenox, one of the foremost merchants of New York, was a trusted 
adviser of Biddle. Cf. Life in Wilson, James G., Memorial History of New York 
(New York, 1893), vol. iv, p. 417. 



3 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

ment there is clear prospect of doing it usefully & safely) 
to make at present the large commercial Cities the principal 
scene of our operations. With this impression my object is 
to give to the Office at New York the command of the busi- 
ness of N. York — to make it the first banking institution 
there. To this it is entitled from its Capital its resources, 
and the character of its Direction. But it never can have the 
power which it ought to possess, if it suffers itself to be 
crowded out of its proper sphere by the State Banks & 
to be constantly preyed upon by them. It would be de- 
sirable too that it should keep its means as much as pos- 
sible to itself — except what may be necessary for profit- 
able exchange operations, & as far as possible avoid having 
large balances from Southern Offices. . . . 

BmDLE TO David Sears ^ 

Philad^ Jany s^'^ 1824 
My Dear Sir 

The frequent experience which we have had of your 
liberality and your attachment to the interest of the Bank, 
has induced us to take a liberty which I persuade myself 
you will not disapprove. Since the Presidency of the Office 
at Boston has passed out of the political family where it has 
been so long, there has been a feeling of disquiet at the cir- 
cumstance, increased by the political cast of a great ma- 
jority of the Board. These are considerations, which situ- 
ated as we are we cannot wholly overlook, that they shall 
never be permitted to interfere with more important mat- 
ters. Still in the effort to attract towards the Bank the good 

* Sears, David, a wealthy Bostonian. Winsor, Justin, A Memorial History of 
Boston (Boston, 1883), vol, iv, p. 657. 



71? David Sears 3 3 

wishes of the country at large it is desirable whenever a 
safe opportunity presents itself, of assuaging feelings which 
may hereafter grow into hostility, to take advantage of it. 
During the present year our two directors from your state 
are both of the same political denomination and as the 
President of the Office is now of that section also it is 
thought well to give to their political opponents, if indeed 
they can be so called, a larger share in the administration. 
This we have done by subsitituting M*" Crowninshield,^ 
for M^ Mason.^ To the latter's gentleman his seat at this 
Board is I presume an object of indifference, as his high stand- 
ing and character place him beyond the reach of wishing a 
mere compliment, and his occupations prevent his personal 
attendance. M"" Crowninshield is a gentleman of character, 
a large Stockholder, and he will now visit us necessarily 
twice a year. Under these circumstances. Gen' Cadwal- 
ader ^ and myself have thought it was for the interest of 
the Bank to make the change, and we have relied on the 
good feelings of yourself and M"" Mason to understand, and 
appreciate our motives. To that gentleman, whom I have 
not the pleasure of knowing personally, I trust you will be 
good enough to explain the reasons of this change, which in 

^ A rich merchant and literary man of Boston. Cf. sketch of life in Winsor, 
Justin, A Memorial History of Boston, vol. iv, p. 293. 

2 A great lawyer, formerly senator from New Hampshire. Dean of Harvard 
Law School. Ibid., vol. iv, p. 598. 

^ Soldier and lawyer. Brigadier-General of volunteers in Mexican War. Placed 
in command of Baltimore during the semi-revolt at the time of the Civil 
War. In 1862 commissioned Major-General and one of the board to revise mili- 
tary laws and regulations in the United States. One of Biddle's most trusted 
advisers. Cf . Appleton, Cyclopedia, and Simpson, Henry, TJte Lives of Eminent 
Philadelphians (Philadelphia, 1859), pp. 168-170. For Cadwalader's relations with 
President Jackson, cf. Bassett, J. S., The Life of Andrew Jackson (New York, 
1911), vol. II, pp. 404, 590, 591, 617. 



34 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

truth has been occasioned by our perfect conviction, that 
in the endeavor to reconcile conflicting Interests we have 
some right to claim and are sure of receiving, the Indul- 
gence of such gentlemen as M' Mason and yourself. 

Biddle to Colonel George Gibbs ^ 

Phila. March 15, 1825 
My dear Sir, 

I have just received your favor of the 14th Inst, and 
regret much that It will not be in my power to negotiate 
the note you have forwarded, which is therefore returned 
to you herewith. Since my connection with the Bank I 
have been obliged to make It an Invariable rule not to be a 
borrower from the Bank itself — and not to be an indorser 
on notes discounted either there or in other Institutions. 
To this I have on principle adhered, to the prejudice of my 
own interest, from a conviction that situated as I am. It 
was In all respects proper. I should feel more unwilling to 
act on It upon the present occasion If I did not know that 
it would not Incommode you as you will find no difficulty 
in making the arrangement elsewhere. . . . 

Biddle to Isaac Lawrence Esqr. ^ 

Bank of the United States 
April 22°^ 1825. 
Sir 

Allow me again to invite your attention to the sub- 
ject of turning the balances with the State Banks, in your 

' Literary man. Cf. Wilson, op. cit., vol. iv, p. 417. 

* President of Branch of United States Bank in New York. Cf. Lamb, Mrs. 
Martha J., History of the City of New York (New York, 1881), vol. ii, p. 520. 



To Isaac Lawrence 3 5 

favor by bringing your discounts within your income. In 
the midst of the speculations ^ which are abroad, combined 
with the demands for specie, prudence requires that we 
should keep within reasonable limits, and that under all 
circumstances, and at all hazards the Bank should keep 
itself secure and strong. Since the i8th of March when 
I wrote to you on the subject of your ability to do busi- 
ness paper falling due on or about the i^^ of July, your 
discounts have increased about ^700,000, a fair addition 
to your business which would be attended with no incon- 
venience did not an extraordinary demand for Specie which 
has arisen render the extension more hazardous by expos- 
ing you to calls for Specie against which every considera- 
tion of prudence requires you to guard. It is no doubt very 
unpleasant and even painful to decline good business paper, 
but you have already by so large an increase of your dis- 
counts contributed your full share to the public accomoda- 
tion — and beyond a certain limit the convenience of the 
customers of the Bank however desirable it may be to pro- 
mote it is only a secondary consideration when there is the 
slightest risk that by pushing the spirit of accomodation as 
to require a sudden reduction, which would more than over 
balance the facilities to a few individuals which had occa- 
sioned it. In the present state of the office the true course 
I think is, to turn over as quietly as possible to the other 
Banks, any demand which you cannot supply — to let the 
diminution of your discounts, and the public revenue as it 
accumulates turn the scale in your favor with the other 

^ The first great test of Biddle's policy as President of the Bank came during 
the crisis of 1825; and largely owing to his foresight and policy, as shown in the 
above letter, the institution and the nation were able to weather the storm. For 
a complete discussion of this topic, cf. Catterall, op. cii., pp. 106-108. 



36 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Banks, and then not to make sudden or very rigid demands 
on them for Specie when you feel satisfied that you can 
claim your balances the moment they are wanted. By pur- 
suing such a system you will I hope soon be able to regain 
your ascendency over the State institutions without risk or 
inconvenience. 

Biddle to Isaac Lawrence 

Bank of the United States 
May I2th 1825 
Dear Sir 

I again observe with pleasure your proceedings of 
yesterday. Everything will go as we could wish if we have 
but the firmness to withstand the solicitations of persons 
whose wants or whose interest overcome every other con- 
sideration. Our first duty Is to take care of the Bank, and 
at the present moment of wild and exaggerated specula- 
tion if we suff"er ourselves to be borne away by the cur- 
rent, if we do not on the contrary, like sober and prudent 
men, resist alike the entreaties or the clamors of individuals 
we shall betray our trust. You are doing now perfectly well. 
Let us not by the hope of doing better or getting more busi- 
ness risk the prosperity and safety of the institution. . . . , 

Biddle to Robert Lenox 

Phila. June 24, 1825 
Dear Sir, 

. . . The truth is simply this. The Bank is doing very 
well. During my connection of six years with it, I have 
never seen its affairs in so satisfactory a state, as at the 
present moment. It will have certainly have earned during 



From TValter Bowne 3 7 

the last six months more than three per cent. But then I am 
clearly of opinion that we should never advance our rate 
of dividend, till we are perfectly satisfied that we will never 
have occasion to diminish it. In Jany. 1823, we began with- 
out one dollar in our pockets — and we have been trying 
ever since to accumulate a fund In reserve, so as to equalize 
our dividends. You may be very sure of two things: in the 
first place that no determination with regard to the next 
Dividend has been generally formed, & In the second place 
that whatever that Dividend may be the succeeding divi- 
dend will be at least as much. . . . 

Walter Bowne ^ to Biddle 

(Privat) New York June 28, 1825 

Dear Sir 

... A foolish report has been going about that a 
combination of persons who have obtained an influence in 
several of our local moneyd institutions have commenced 
an arrangement to attack the USB, obtain votes and 
effect a change in the direction the thing in my mind Is 
altogether preposterous — that is as to success one favorite 
argument with them to weak stockholders Is a promise of 
better dividends. 

P.S. some increase of div'^. at this time in the opinion of 
many of our best friends will most materially subserve the 
best interest of the Bank.^ 

^ Mayor of New York 1 828-1 833. A descendant of the well-known and highly 
estimable Quaker family of the Bownes of Flushing, Long Island. Engaged in the 
hardware business. Wilson, op. cit., vol. iii, p. 338. 

* A combination had been formed to remove Biddle on account of his re- 
fusal to increase the dividends. However, the affair came to nothing, but Biddle 
finally agreed to pay 2j per cent. 



38 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

BiDDLE TO James Lloyd 

Jan^. 23, 1826 
A'ly dear Sir, 

... If there be any one principle upon which we 
have acted, with the most fastidious care, it is, to treat the 
State authorities with the greatest respect, and in all our 
intercourse with them to blend the utmost perseverance in 
asserting the rights of the Bank, with the utmost courtesy 
to all who opposed them. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Daniel Webster 

Philadelphia Feby. 16, 1826 
My dear Sir, 

... I have no doubt that we could at once give to 
the Southern & Western sections of the country twoor three 
millions of sound & useful circulating medium if we could 
sign that amount of 5 & 10 dollars. But to make two mil- 
lions of five dollar notes, it would be necessary to sign my 
name 400,000 times, which, to a person whose time is & 
must be absorbed during the day by the duties of his sta- 
tion, is wholly impracticable. The application for this pur- 
pose was made to Congress some years ago, but it was ac- 
companied by a request that Congress would alter the 
Charter so as to prevent the universal receivability of the 
notes. This I am satisfied from experience, as I was at the 
time from theory, is not desirable; & all that the Bank now 
wants is, that it may carry into execution a purpose useful 
alike to itself & to the community, by assisting in the dif- 
fusion of a wholesome currency. I wish therefore to consult 
you as to the best mode of presenting that subject to Con- 



To yohn McKim^ jfr. 39 

gress. I have been for three years past so anxious to keep 
the Bank out of view in the poHtlcal world & bring it down 
to Its true business character as a Counting House, that I 
have been very reluctant to apply to Congress for anything. 
... I believe it to stand better with Congress than it did 
some time ago, but the political odour of sanctity is very 
evanescent & if our purpose can be obtained without bring- 
ing on two weeks debate upon the constitutionality of the 
Bank, the usurpations of the Supreme Court, & omni scibile 
& quibusdem aliis, it would be a great satisfaction. . . • ^ ^ 

BiDDLE TO John McKim, Jr. Esq. 

Philad^ March 14'*^ 1826 
My dear Sir, 

. . . With regard to our late arrangements, they are 
simply these. It has been impossible hitherto while the offi- 
cers of the Bank were so fully occupied with local duties to 
know as much as was necessary of a great many matters of 
the highest importance. For Instance we have nearly two 
millions of real estate besides Banking houses, & we have 
about nine millions of old & new suspended debts. You 
know how apt real estate & bad debts are to suffer for the 
want of looking after after. We therefore appointed an offi- 
cer here to take care of those two concerns. Again, we have 
never had a sufficient knowledge of the accounts between 
the officers. It was thus that West the Cashier of New Or- 
leans was enabled to defraud the Bank of ^20,000 — we 
wish to examine these accounts, & we wish also to have our 

* This is the earliest mention of one of Biddle's most important innovations. 
Draft notes were adopted in 1827 and were first issued in June, 1827. Cf. Catterall, 
op. cit., p. 119. 



40 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Exchange business particularly well managed. We have 
therefore appointed another Officer for those two pur- 
poses. With a view to attract gentlemen of first rate abil- 
ities, as the salaries are low (^2500 for one & $2,200 for 
the other) we have called them not Clerks but Assistant 
Cashiers. . . . 

Biddle to General John P. Boyd ^ 

Philad^ Nov 23d 1826 
My Dear Sir, 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your letter of 
the 18^^ inst which revived a great many agreeable recol- 
lections. In regard to the establishment of a Branch at Port- 
land nothing is as yet decided but should it take place the 
policy of the Bank has been in the appointment of confi- 
dential Officers to live at a distance and to execute such 
important trusts to take In preference Officers brought up 
in the Bank under our own eye whose character & conduct 
are known to us and afi'ord the best guarantee of their ca- 
pacity to carry into effect the system of the Bank with which 
they are familiar. I have long been satisfied that this is the 
true policy of the Bank and I think it will be pursued in case 
a Branch is established at Portland. The observation applies 
of course only to the Cashier. The other Officers are appointed 
by the Directors of the Branch. This is all that I can say at 
present and although It would be more agreeable to me per- 
sonally to offer to your nephew more favorable prospects yet 
this candid explanation Is due to you.^ 

* A free lance and soldier of fortune. Cf. Appleton, Cyclopedia. 
2 This letter shows Biddle's insistence upon promotion by merit rather than 
through political influence. 



"To Daniel TVebster 41 

BiDDLE TO James Crommelieu ^ 

Phila^ May 7, 1827 
Dear Sir, 

. . . With a view to secure the best talents in its serv- 
ice & to reward the meritorious officers, the rule of the Bank 
is that whenever any vacancy occurs it is filled by promo- 
tion, & the person last introduced takes his place at the foot 
of the list, & is gradually advanced if found deserving. The 
salary of the Officers on their first entrance into the Bank is 
seven hundred dollars ($700) a year. A comparatively small 
compensation, but as it is known to lead to more lucrative 
situations, it is sufficient to attract to the service of the Bank 
a great number of applicants of respectability. When a va- 
cancy takes place a selection is made from these by a ballot 
at the Board — in which I of course participate as one of the 
members merely. At present there is no vacancy. It is impos- 
sible however to say how soon there may be one — and if you 
think it desirable after what I have stated to come into the 
Bank I would recommend this course. . . . 

Biddle to Daniel Webster Esqr 

Bank of the United States 
{private) June 29**^ 1827 

My Dear Sir 

In consequence of your letter I wrote to the proper 
source suggesting the gentleman mentioned by you and 
have this morning an answer of which the following is an 
extract. 

" In regard to the appointment of Mr it Is well known 

^ Cashier of Brooklyn Bank. American Almanac^ 1836-1837, p. 14. 



42 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

"here that he Is in embarrassed circumstances and his notes 
"now in the Bank are considered discounted on one name, 
"which however is unquestionably good. Repeated efforts 
"have been made to obtain an additional name, in which we 
"have failed. It is with much inconvenience he meets even 
"his check of lo per cent and his note for ^330 has recently 
"passed the Board for the same amount (now under protest) 
"on condition of his paying 20% on the next renewal. Under 
" these circumstances however happy I should otherwise be 
" to have him attached to the Board, I cannot at present con- 
"sistently recommend him for a Director." This presents a 
strong case. Obliged as we are to look at the pecuniary side of 
men's characters, to be in embarrassed circumstances and to 
be even under protest, are deemed disqualifications for sitting 
at the Board which must decide on his own applications for 
loans. It is probable that you are not aware of these facts and 
I mention the subject thus early, so that in case you wish to 
make any further remarks on it, they may be in time for the 
election on the 1 1 th of next month. I will only add that as the 
letter to me Is in the most entire confidence, you will con- 
sider It in the same manner. I should particularly regret that 
your correspondent knew the source of the objection as 
it might excite personal hostility towards a very worthy 
man. . . . 

Biddle to Campbell P. White Esqr. 

Bank of the United States 
Nov^ 27, 1827 
Dear Sir 

... I thank you for the suggestion in regard to the 
political character of the Board These are considerations 



From jfohn Sergeant 43 

which tho' secondary are not to be overlooked and while I 
would not go out of the way to seek for that object among 
persons entirely equal in other respects, it would due 
weight.^ 

John Sergeant ^ to Biddle 

Washington Dec'. 13, 1827 
Dear Sir, 

Tomorrow's paper will give you a resolution intro- 
duced to day by M^ Barbour, and the remarks with which 
he accompanied it, instructing the Comm^. of Ways and 
Means to enquire into the expediency of selling the Gov*'^ 
stock in the Bank. It ought to have been decided at once, 
and I think might have been, but before I could get the floor, 
a motion was made to lay it on the table which supersedes 
debate. I believe it will be rejected. In the mean time, however, 
it will do some mischief, and, if considered as the beginning of 
an attack, lead to permanent distrust in the stability of the 
institution which will somewhat enfeeble it. The motion will 
have the effect, too, of putting the Bank among the topics 
to be handled by those who are seeking popularity. I am 
sorry for it. 

1 have never heard a word about our cause, from which I 
am afraid there was nothing pleasant to say. 

* The Bank was not impervious to the need of political balance as indicated 
in the above. 

2 Representative from Pennsylvania. Sergeant was one of the closest friends 
of Biddle and one upon whom the latter often relied in political controversies. For 
a full discussion of Barbour's attack, cf. Cong. Debates, vol. iv, pt. i, pp. 815, 843, 
854. 858. 



44 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



Edward Everett ^ to Biddle 

H. of Representatives 
13 Dec'. '27 
My dear Sir, 

A proposition was this day submitted by Mr. P. P. Bar- 
bour ^ to sell the bank stock of the United States, or rather 
to make such sale the subject of Enquiry by the Com'' of 
Ways & Means. The proposition was ably opposed by Messers 
McDufRe ^ & Gorham/ and was laid on the table. Mr. Bar- 
bour will probably bring it up again. Pray let me know (in 
addition to the obvious considerations on this matter ably 
Stated by Mr Gorham) what you would wish to have Said 
about It. 

Biddle to Churchill C. Cambreleng ^ 

• Phlla. Deer. 16, 1827 

Dear Sir, 

... I wish M"" Barbour had introduced his motion at 
some other time for just now it is particularly inconvenient. 
I need not tell the Chairman of the Com. of Commerce that 
for the last four or five months the course of trade and ex- 
change has carried off a great part of the specie fund of the 
country & that the Banks may probably be obliged to defend 
themselves by diminishing their accomodations to the Com- 
munity which is you know the ultimate remedy. But it is 

^ Representative from Massachusetts. 

2 Representative from Virginia. 

^ George McDufifie (i 788-1 851). One of the most brilliant of South Carolina 
leaders. For life, cf. O'Neall, Bench and. Bar oj South Carolina, vol. 11, pp. 
463-468. 

* Representative from Massachusetts. 

^ Representative from New York. 



yohn TV. Barney to Colt 45 

sometimes a severe one. We have been striving to avoid it 
by very large sales of bills which yet do not supply the de- 
mand. Just at this moment it happened very luckily that the 
quotations of the Bank Stock in England were such as to show 
that remittance of it would be as good as specie calculating 
the present rate of exchange & the price of £5.10 in London. 
Accordingly large remittance of Stocks were contemplated 
the effect of which would have been, besides the profit to our 
citizens to furnish an amount of exchange which would re- 
lieve by so much the pressure on the Banks by specie. I think 
that a million of dollars would have taken that direction in a 
week or two & would have afforded real relief. The proposal 
to sell 7 millions of course destroys all chance of a sale in Eng- 
land at present prices. Nor is this all. For if the foreign Stock- 
holders should take the alarm & throw their stock into the 
market here it would create a new demand for exchange to 
remit the proceeds, & thus increase the pressure on the Banks. 
Whatever be the decision of Congress it is desirable that it 
should be soon made. 

John W. Barney ^ to Colt 

Washington December i8th 1827 
My Dear Sir 

Mr Barbour's resolution has been so generally repro- 
bated by every intelligent member of the House, that I 
doubt whether he would willingly consent to have it called 
up again, but as you are of opinion that it is desirable to have 
it finally disposed of I will as soon as he returns from Vir- 
ginia press a decision on the subject. 

1 Representative from Maryland, 1825-1829. 



46 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

RoswELL L. Colt to Biddle 

Bal. 20 De 1827 
Dear Biddle 

I send You a Letter I have rec*^ from Barney on the 
subject of Barbours resolution — to day a Member called on 
me to whom I had written about it. he said that Cale Dray- 
ton, & M"" McDufhe both assured him the moment Barbour 
returned they would have it called up & finally disposed of. 
Mr Sargent who has gone to Harrisburg requested to have it 
suspended until his return, but that since the Public mind 
was so agitated they should not wait but act on It at once & 
probably its fate would be decided to day. 

Churchill C. Cambreleng to Biddle 

Wash". 20 Dec'. 1827 
Dear Sir, 

I hope you will not let M"" Barbour resolution disturb 
you. 'i^ 

It will be put at rest by a large majority — the debate 
will be of service to the Bank. 

Joseph Gales, Jr, ^ to Biddle 

Washington, Dec. 21. 1827 
Dear Sir 

'^ I beg leave to congratulate you and the country on the 
decisive & overwhelming defeat of M' P. P. Barbour's mo- 
tion directly proposing a sale of the U.S. Bank Shares. 

As it has thus terminated, it is fortunate that it was made, 
and made from so really respectable & disinterested a Source. 

* Co-editor of National Intelligencer with his brother-in-law William W. Seaton. 



"To George McDuffie 47 

I consider this vote as definitively settling, in advance of its 
agitation, the question of the renewal of the charter, as well 
as the subordinate question to which it [is] more immediately 
related. All my fear, now is that the Stock will again, as 
once it has before, mount too rapidly; a consequence of the 
late decision which I trust, if it appear probable, the Mother 
Bank will occasionally check by throwing into Market por- 
tions of the Stock which it holds itself or can control. 

BiDDLE TO George McDuffie 

Phil^. Dec^ 26. 1827 
Dear Sir, 

Whilst the resolution of M"" Barbour was under con- 
sideration I forbore to intrude on you with any observation in 
regard to it, because I was aware that I could add nothing 
either to your knowledge of the subject or your disposition to 
do it ample justice. The decision of the question leaves me at 
liberty to enjoy the pleasure which I cannot refrain from in- 
dulging — of expressing the high gratification felt through- 
out the community at the great promptness & ability which 
have distinguished your course on this occasion. They w^ho 
are directly interested in the result have naturally strong 
sentiments of gratification to one who has averted from them 
a great calamity; but there is a more numerous & impartial 
class of spectators of public affairs who are delighted in re- 
cognizing among our public men, enlarged & statesmanlike 
views of the great interests of the country, unbiased by local 
& sectional prejudices. To such of these you have given un- 
mingled satisfaction — and you have added largely to the 
number of your fellow citizens who will watch your advance- 
ment with the most friendly solicitude. I know that you do 



48 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

not require the stimulous of applause to do your full duty 
to the country; but no public man need be indifferent to pub- 
lic gratitude If It be earned by public services, — and this 
you may well receive, because it is well deserved. I tell You 
that no one has been more sensible of the value of this exer- 
tion of your abilities not merely to the Institution but to the 
country than 

Biddle to John Potter * 

Phil^ Jan^ 7, 1828 
Dear Sir 

. . . We might, you perceive, have increased the divi- 
dend, but we did not like, after the recent proceedings in Con- 
gress to have the air of straining our profits for the sake of 
appearances — and thought it better to stop far within our 
limits. This course I think you would approve. 

The motion of Mr Barbour has, we think been serviceable 
to the Bank. ... 

Henry Clay ^ to BmoLE 

{Private) Wash n. 28'. May 1828 

My dear Sir 

You may have observed In the Telegraph of the 20'. 
Inst, an article, taken from a K. paper, in which a formidable 
array of my mortgages and debts is made with a view of mak- 
ing me out a bankrupt. Among the mortgages are two, one to 
the Bank of the U.S. to secure payment of $22,000, and the 
other to J. Harper Cash^ &c to secure payment of $1666:66. 

^ Trusted adviser of Biddle with Robert Patterson at Charleston. In 1824 
moved to Princeton, New Jersey. Cf. Hageman, John F., History oj Princeton 
(Philadelphia, 1879), vol. i, pp. 313, 314. 

* Secretary of State in the Cabinet of John Quincy Adams. 



From Henry Clay 49 

The latter is wholly discharged. Of the former debt all is 
paid but about $4000 to meet which there is deposited with 
the Lexington office paper payable to me, and which becomes 
due this fall. I have every reason to anticipate its punctual 
payment, and thus the entire extinction of the mortgage. The 
truth is that my private affairs, materially aifected by a re- 
sponsibility I incurred about ten years ago, as indorcer, have 
been in a state of progressive improvement since, and now 
stand better than they have done during any portion of that 
time. They are such that, if I were to die tomorrow, my re- 
sources are abundant to meet all my engagements, and to 
leave my family comfortable. 

I have thought it might be benefitial to me if you would 
cause a paragraph to be unveiled, in some paper in your 
City, making concisely the above statement in regard to the 
two mortgages, or simply saying that a small balance only 
is due on the large mortgage which paper is in deposit to 
meet this fall, and that the small one is discharged. It would 
be no more than an act of justice to add that, in all my rela- 
tions with the bank, I have practised the greatest fidelity to 
my engagements; and that whilst most of your Western 
debtors have been allowed to pay off their debts in property, 
no such easement was ever extended or asked by me. I 
presume the returns from the office at Lexington are such 
as to admit of the insertion of such a paragraph which 
might be signed by yourself or Mr. M'^Ilvaine,^ or be pub- 

^ Assistant Cashier of the Bank. Mcllvaine was a special friend of Biddle and 
often rendered him very valuable services. It was largely owing to his management 
that the Bank of the United States secured its charter as a State Bank from Penn- 
sylvania in 1836. Cf. sketch of his life in Scharf, J. H., and Westcott, Thompson, 
History of Philadelphia, 160Q-1884 (Philadelphia, 1884), vol. 11, p. 1545; and Mar- 
tin, J. H., Bench and Bar oj Philadelphia (Philadelphia, 1883), p. 84. 



50 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

lished as upon the authority of the Bank, without any 
signature. 

I do not owe any bank in existence a cent, except the small 
balance due to the Lex", office. Instead of being indebted to 
the Bank of K. (which is one of my enumerated creditors) 
subsequent to the date and after the payment of my mort- 
gage to that institution, it became indebted to me to the 
amount of $10000 for which I actually sued it. 

I hope you will excuse the trouble I give you, and be- 
lieve me, with great respect, 

Biddle to Henry Clay 

Phil^ May 30, 1828 
My Dear Sir 

I had this morning the pleasure of receiving your favor 
of yesterday during the session of the Board from which I 
was not released in time to answer it by the return of the mail 
I need not say that it will afford me great satisfaction to assist 
in refuting the injurious representations of your affairs, — 
which I remember to have seen without reading, as I should 
have read without believing them. I began by ascertaining 
from the records of the Bank the accuracy of your statement 
— but as the returns from the offices represent only the debts 
of the parties, and not the paper which they deposit for col- 
lection, I cannot speak on that subject with as much distinct- 
ness as I am able to do in regard to the reduction of your debt 
and your fidelity in complying with your engagements to the 
Bank. On reflection I think it better not to publish a formal 
certificate, but to introduce the testimony of the Bank in a 
manner less direct tho' equally authoritative. With the reason 
of this, I need not trouble you — tho' I do not doubt that 



From a Stockholder 5 1 

you would concur with me. You will also I hope agree in the 
opinion that the fittest channel now for such a communica- 
tion is M' Walsh. The relation in which he stands to the pres- 
ent contest will under his agency [be] more independent, and 
he will give a pungency & force to the contradiction which will 
probably secure to it a wider circulation than it could obtain 
through any other of our papers. I have accordingly given 
to him a statement which he will embody in a paragraph for 
tomorrow's gazette. You and he I believe do not always 
agree in the upper regions of politics — but I regret to see 
estrangements among those whom I esteem — & on this oc- 
casion he will do you justice frankly & cordially. I trust you 
will be satisfied with the manner in which the subject will be 
presented & believe me very truly ^ 

A Stockholder to Biddle 

Baltimore 17 June 1828 
Sir 

You are doubtless aware of the opposition to your ad- 
ministration of the affairs of the Bank over which you pre- 
side, which has recently manifested itself in your City, New 
York and elsewhere. The Stockholders are under the impres- 
sion that your object is to keep in check the State Banks, 
and to regulate the Currency of the Country at their cost. 
This they say may not be inconvenient to you, while you 
receive the salary of President of the Bank, but it does not 
suit them. The most eflPectual method for you to put down 
the Opposition, is to give a dividend equal to what is usually 

* The accusation was refuted in the National Gazette, May 31, 1828. How- 
ever, it is worth recalling that if Clay was in good financial standing at this time 
it was not his general condition. 



5 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

given by the State banks in your City and elsewhere. If it 
should not be deemed advisable to give 3I p Cent, you may 
give something by way of surplus. Every individual can loan 
his own money in his own way to produce 6 p cent, and 
if the National Bank, with all of its advantages — cannot 
divide more, the Stockholders will not care much about 
the renewal of its charter — 7I pcent p annum, is a moder- 
ate dividend. It is what the Stockholders expect and every 
man in the Nation will sanction 

BmDLE TO Daniel Webster Esqr. 

{private) Bank of the U States 

Augt. 14, 1828 
My dear Sir 

I thank you for your favor of the 9*^ inst. in regard to 
the Portsmouth office which we have this day arranged aggree- 
ably to your recommendation. The only departure from it 
is that we have fixed the salary at $800 & the professional 
compensation at $1,200 — instead of making each $1,000. 
This was done so as to preserve the symmetry of our system 
of compensation to the Presidents of Oflices of similar Capi- 
tal to that of Portsmouth, and not to make any invidious dis- 
tinctions between them. To Mr Mason ^ the form is I pre- 
sume indifferent. 

It remains now to secure his election. 

You know that the Parent Board indicated their prefer- 
ence of a President by placing him at the head of the list — 
and this is usually decisive — but the election is actually with 

2 Jeremiah Mason had led the attack upon the establishment of the Bank in 
1816; yet, through the instrumentality of Webster, as illustrated above, he was 
chosen President of the Portsmouth Branch. 



From R. Smith 5 3 

the Board of the Office, and altho' I have no reason to sup- 
pose that there will be any difficulty, yet [it] is always so much 
easier, if possible, to prevent them to overcome obstacles, that 
I wish you would take upon yourself to promote his elec- 
tion by any communication which you may deem judicious 
with the Board of the Office, whose names are subjoined. I 
enclose Mr Mason's letter to you.^ 

R. Smith ^ to Biddle 

Private l5? confidential Offc B U States 

Washington Sept. 22^ 1828 
Dear Sir 

M*". Asbury Dickins,^ who has had an accommoda- 
tion of about ^2500 in this office, has been lately called upon 
by our Board, either to reduce this debt by curtailments, 
or to give additional security therefore. This demand has 
placed M^ Dickins in a very unpleasant situation, & he will 
not be able to comply with the call, unless at very great in- 
convenience to himself & to his family, & without being un- 
just to his other creditors. In a confidential conversation with 
him, I have learned that there are pressing claims hanging 
over him to the amount of about ^2500, & that every dollar 
which he can spare from the economical support of his family, 
& from the interest on his debts in this office, is applied to the 
liquidation of his debts. If, in addition to the sum already 
loaned to him, the Bank would lend him ^2,500, he would 

^ This letter clearly demonstrates Webster's connection with the disputed 
Portsmouth selection. 

^ Cashier of Branch at Washington, D.C. 

^ Chief Clerk in Treasury Department; after resignation of Samuel D. Ingham, 
March 6, 1829, Dickins was Secretary of the Treasury ad interim, ]une 21, 1831, 
to August 8, 1 83 1. 



54 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

pay off the claims pressing upon him, & would leave a stand- 
ing order to be filed in the Treasury, & to be recognised by the 
Secretary, to pay us ^i,ooo annually out of his salar}^, until 
his whole debt should be paid off. The security which he could 
give would not be adequate to cover this sum; but if he 
lived, and continued in office, the Bank would be sure to 
receive the whole amount of his debt. 

There are other considerations of a delicate nature, which 
w^ould induce me [to] accede to this proposition. They cannot 
be communicated to the Board of Directors, perhaps, but 
must readily occur to you. M"" Dickins fills the confidential 
station in the Treasury, which has the management of the 
Bank accounts. He has already evinced the most friendly 
disposition towards the Bank, & has in many instances, to 
my certain knowledge, rendered services materially impor- 
tant to its interests. I do not say, nor do I believe, that he has 
in a single instance, gone contrary to his duty to the Trea- 
sury; but I know that it is very important to have the per- 
son filling his station, well disposed to the Bank, as the view 
which may be taken of the subjects referred to him, may be 
materially affected by the feelings by which he is governed. 
The report on the subjects of Government deposits In the 
Bank, made to the Senate last winter by Gen'. Smith,^ 
was in a great measure made from materials furnished by 
M"" Dickins, from suggestions obtained from me. This of 
course, must not be talked of, nor should I have mentioned 
it, but to illustrate the Idea of M"". Dickins usefulness. Such 
is my opinion of the services rendered by him, I should 
think it good policy to give up entirely, the whole $5000, 
sooner than not to retain his friendly disposition. . . . 

* Senator from Maryland, 1 822-1 833. 



From yoseph Gales ^ jfr, 55 



Richard Rush * to Biddle 

private and confidential. Washington Nov: 19, 1828 

My dear sir. 

... I am about setting down to the preparation of my 
annual report, always a work of importance, but the materials 
for which, as you well know, cannot be got in, until just be- 
fore congress assembles. I must prepare it, too, amidst the in- 
evitable interruptions of daily business, drawing me aside. 
The receipts for the current year are likely, I think, to ex- 
ceed by a million and a half (perhaps more) my estimate of 
them this time last year. 

It Is my present intention to take some notice of your Bank. 
This has never yet been done, as far as I recollect, as a vol- 
untary duty by the secretary of the treasury in his annual 
reports. But if these reports are to consist of nothing but an 
account current of the receipts of the year, set off in ruled 
lines and columns, any copying clerk in the department 
might annually save the secretary the trouble of drawing 
them up. 

Please to consider this communication as confidential, and 
believe me dear Sir, 

Joseph Gales, Jr., to BmDLE 

Philadelphia, Nov. 24, 1828 

2 P.M. 

Dear Sir: 

Since I had the pleasure of seeing you, I have received 
from the Post Office the enclosed Letter, which, as I find I 

* Secretary of the Treasury. Barbour's attack was instrumental in bringing 
about this reference to the Bank in the Secretary's report. 



56 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

shall not have my business letter ready before Bank closes, 
I send specially to you. 

Since seeing you I have by mere accident learned that, in 
the last contest for the Presidency/ you have been of the 
opinion opposed to that which we have felt it to be our duty 
to maintain. I think it proper to say, that my belief was, until 
otherwise informed, that if you had inclined to either side, 
it was in favor of the present Administration. I advert to the 
fact for no other purpose than to say that I did not speak so 
jreely as I did, during our interviews, with the remotest ap- 
prehension that anything falling from me in allusion to the 
contest could be unpleasant to you. I wish not to be con- 
sidered as one who disregards the common rules of good so- 
ciety. As for the rest, having conversed with you as I would 
with my most intimate political friend, I am satisfied to leave 
it to your determination whether I am either as violent or as 
bad a man as my political enemies would make me out to be. 

Biddle to Richard Rush 

(private) Phila. Nov 25, 1828 

My dear Sir 

... I am very much obliged to you for the intimation 
of your purpose of mentioning the Bank In your next report. 
Independant of the pleasure of seeing its usefulness recog- 
nized from so high a source, it may perhaps be useful with 
regard to others who have hitherto not been so well disposed 

* This letter is highly significant as it shows that Gales was surprised that 
Biddle did not warmly support Adams. If this was true, can it be possible that 
Biddle was favorably disposed to Jackson? Parton and von Hoist both cite Jack- 
son's interest in the Bank in 1821 and 1828; while Catterall claims that Biddle had 
been warned in 1828 by Mcllvaine of the incoming President's hostility. However, 
it seems from this letter that Biddle 's friends thought he was not opposed to 
Jackson. 



To Richard Rush 5 7 

& who now seemed destined to have an Influence hereafter 
over that subject, so far as respects the country I am per- 
fectly satisfied from as Intimate a knowledge as I possess of 
any subject, that [but] for the presence of the Bank the cur- 
rency of the country would In two months time relapse into 
confusion, & that the pubHc revenue, becoming of unequal 
value at every part of the Union would be subject to loss & 
delay & expence In making transfers which would be Incal- 
culable injurious. It occurs to me — & I therefore venture the 
suggestion — that the subject might be appropriately Intro- 
duced at that part of the report, which will naturally state 
the amount of debt extinguished during the last four years. 
It would then be satisfactory to add, that the whole of this 
amount, In addition to the ordinary receipts & disbursements, 
after being collected In various quarters of this extensive 
country are transferred to the several points where the pub- 
lic debt Is payable, & actually disbursed for that purpose 
without the delay of amount, or the expense of a dollar — 
or the slightest risk — the Bank being responsible for the con- 
duct of the agents — while In England, the Gov'' pay more 
than a million of dollars annually for the management of its 
debt by the Bank of England. What is scarcely less important 
is, that from the arrangements made by the Bank for these 
payments, the Inconvenience of a great accumulation of 
money in the vaults of the Gov* followed by an immediate 
distribution of it is entirely obviated. The Bank as the period 
of payment approaches, anticipates In the form of discounts 
the disbursement of a considerable portion of the Stock — 
and the rest becomes absorbed in the mass of its operations 
so that many millions are paid on a given day, without the 
slightest previous pressure, or any consciousness on the part 



5 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

of the community of such an operation, which unless skilfully 
made, may produce inconvenient shocks & fluctuations. . . . 

BmDLE TO Daniel Webster 

Phllad Dec 2. 1828 
My dear Sir 

I rec^ this morning your favor of the 29*^^ ulto — 
which did not reach me until the Committee to whom Mr 
Gales' application was referred had decided upon it & their 
report was adopted by the Board today. 

I have, indeed we all have, very favorable dispositions 
towards Mr Gales, & would gladly assist him if it could be 
done with propriety. But it would be wrong for us to con- 
sider the matter in any other than a pecuniary light or to treat 
it on any other than simple business principles. The value 
of his paper & the advantage of its continuance are considera- 
tions entirely foreign to us — and the very circumstance that 
but for the B. U. S. any newspaper would be discontinued, 
or that the Bank had gone out of its way in order to sustain 
any newspaper either in administration or in opposition would 
be a subject of reproach & what alone makes reproach un- 
comfortable of just reproach to the Bank. I have striven to 
keep the Bank straight & neutral in this conflict of parties, 
& I shall endeavor to persevere in that course. If then the 
support of the Nat' Int^ offers no adequate temptation to 
hazard the property of the Bank, the loan is on business prin- 
ciples not a proper one. The responsibilities of the party now 
amount to a little above $50,000 : for this the Bank has it is 
conceived just enough & no more to make the debt secure, & 
all the other means of the parties are already pledged for 
other debts. The only chance there of any accession of means 



From Richard Rush 5 9 

Is in the contingency of their receiving the appointment of 
printers to the next Congress — a contingency which a politi- 
cian may regard as surrounded by different degrees of prob- 
ability but which to a Banker seems an unsteady basis for 
a loan of ^15,000. I am very sorry that we were obliged to 
decline but really saw no other course, unless we were ready 
in all impartiality, to furnish the means for a newspaper 
under the next administration. I have written thus freely 
because I thought It would Interest you to know the fate 
of his application & the reason of it. 

Richard Rush to Biddle 

'Private Washington December 10, 1828 

Dear sir, 

I beg leave to enclose you a copy of my annual report. 
In framing it on this occasion, I have had reference to its mak- 
ing a good impression abroad, satisfied that [If] it should have 
this effect, in any degree, It will render it but the more valu- 
able at home. Hence in the part about the debt, as well Indeed 
as in other parts, I have been somewhat more elementary, 
or rather, I should say, explanatory, than would be neces- 
sary for home readers alone. I had written out the first sketch 
of the whole, including the part about the bank, before I was 
favored with your letter of the 25*^^ of November, and had an- 
ticipated some of its suggestions. Others that It contained, and 
that I also found in your late letter to Mr Dickins, I adopted, 
and now make you my acknowledgments for them. At the 
time the Bank was attacked last winter, for so It was in effect, 
I took my determination not to leave the Department with- 
out placing on record my testimony to its vast value to the 
nation. It will be called an extra-official, volunteer, thing on 



6o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

my part, and other comments made; all of which I shall set at 
naught. The finances of the state are the state. So said Burke. 
Every thing that can be brought to bear upon the wealth and 
prosperity of the nation, — commerce, manufactures, agri- 
culture, the shipping interest, the currency, banks, the coin, 
tariffs. Internal works — legislation as it may affect all or 
any of these topics, are open, so I hold it, to the scrutiny 
or recommendations of a secretary of the treasury, in his an- 
nual reports to the national Legislature. He may review in 
them, if he pleases, the financial systems of any part of the 
world, past or present, and ought to, if by it he can help our 
own. True he must be responsible to his own character for 
the manner in which he may do all this, and more, for every- 
thing is open to him. His scope is boundless. I have at least 
desired to give to the law under which the annual report is 
made, an enlarged interpretation. I would lift up its dignity, 
as well as its importance, leaving it for others, more able, 
who are to come after me, to improve to great national bene- 
fits my mere conception of the duties which it imposes. . . . 

You have probably as much or more to fear for the Bank, 
from New York, as from Virginia, and with even less excuse. 
In Virginia, there are still constitutional scruples. In New 
York, none. But the frog of Wall Street, puffs himself into 
the Ox of Lombard street, and will not have you abuse him. 
Hinc ille lacrymae. . . . 

It is my intention to send copies of my report abroad. I 
shall take care that it reaches the hands not only of such 
persons as Mr Huskisson,^ Mr Peel ^ and Lord Aberdeen,^ 

^ At this time Secretary of State for War in the Wellington Ministry. 
2 Later Prime Minister of England, December, 1834, 1841-1846. 
' At this time Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in the Wellington Min- 
istry. 



From George Hoffman 6 1 

but also some of those capitalists and bankers who can make 
the pecuniary world heave, in both hemispheres, by holding 
up a finger, at the Royal or stock exchange. 

George Hoffman ^ to Biddle 

Baltimore Decern 20th 1828 
My dear Sir 

. . . You appear to be going on so smoothly and satis- 
factorily in the management and operations of the Bank 
that no room or need of remark or advice is necessary, and 
this here to fore much abused and unpopular Bank may now 
be hoped, and said to stand so well with the public, or of all 
well informed communities and experienced men, that its 
enemies may become its friends. I hope we may so find it 
when we go forward for a renewal of its charter. Mr Rush 
has at least come out, and has done his duty well. It has 
given me surprise that he, and indeed the President, as also 
former Secretaries of the Treasury have not usually said 
something of the truth of this matter in their reports. 

I would think well of an application for a new Charter 
some time (years) before the expiration of the present, and 
would choose a tranquil fortunate session to make it in, an 
early application is reasonable & proper, as a Machine of its 
extent, and Loans should know its course, and have ample 
time to its closure if necessary. I cannot doubt a renewal will 
be had — the terms may give you difficulty and trouble. I 
have read with great dissatisfaction the assertions ensinu- 
ations and threats of DuflP Green in his Telegraph of the 4th 
Instant, does M' Clay owe the Bank now a large sum t This 

^ One of the directors of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. Scharf, J. T., The 
Chronicles oj Baltimore (Baltimore, 1874), pp. 377, 447. 



62 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

enflated flimsy Editor does mischief and may do more if not 
put right, his paper circulates extensively and has done a good 
deal for the cause of Gen' Jackson, I should be very sorry to 
imagine the next administration would in any way be influ- 
enced by such a paper. Yet I know a Gentleman here a popular 
leading Jackson man a representative to our Legislature, and 
whose family own a large amount of Stock B. U. S. declare he 
would sell out his Stock on reading Duff Greens paper. . . . 

Biddle to George Hoffman 

Philad^ Dec 22. 1828 
My dear Sir 

... I do not incline to fear anything for the Bank 
from the change of Administration. Mr Rush's excellent 
report sets the seal upon that question, & I should think that 
no administration would venture to set the monied concerns 
of the country afloat as they once were. When we see who is 
to be our new Secy of the Treasy, we can consider seriously 
the application for a renewal. . . . 

Biddle to Samuel Smith 

Philad^ Dec 29. 1828 
Dear Sir 

... 3. — You ask "whether any of the branches. In 
any way whatever, except the individual votes of the Direc- 
tors, interfered in the late contest." 

Most certainly not — in the slightest degree. There is no 
one principle better understood by every officer in the Bank, 
than that, he must abstain from politics, and I have not seen 
nor heard of any one of them in any part of the Union, who 
has been engaged in this controversy. I remarked the other 



From jfohn McLean 63 

day a story of a person ^ in Cincinnati who was arrested for 
rent, & It was supposed that the agent of the Bank had done 
it to prevent his going to the Senate & making a Senator of 
the U.S. friendly to Gen' Jackson. I do not consider it pos- 
sible that he should have had any such design, but the sub- 
ject is under investigation, & If he shall be found to have 
abused the power of the bank to such an unworthy purpose, 
he shall certainly never have an opportunity of repeating it. 
The course of the Bank is very clear and straight on that 
point. We believe that the prosperity of the Bank & its use- 
fulness to the country depend on its being entirely free from 
the control of the Officers of the Gov^, a control fatal to every 
Bank, which it ever Influenced. In order to preserve that in- 
dependence it must never connect Itself with any administra- 
tion — & never become a partizan of any set of politicians. 
In this respect I believe all the officers of the institution 
have been exemplary. The truth is that with us, it is con- 
sidered that we have no concern in politics. Dean Swift, 
said you know, that money is neither, whig nor tor}% and we 
say with equal truth, that the Bank Is neither Jackson man 
nor an Adams man, It is only a Bank. ... 

John McLean ^ to Biddle 

Confidential Washington 

5 Jan^. 1829 
Dear Sir, 

The enclosed lists of names have been handed to me 
by Col Johnson ^ of Kentucky, with a request that I would 

' A Mr. Mack of Cincinnati. 

* Postmaster-General under J. Q. Adams; later Associate Justice of the Su- 
preme Court. 

* R. M. Johnson, Vice-President under Van Buren. 



64 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

submit them to you, as recommended by himself, and renewal 
of the delegation from Kentucky, for the appointment of Di- 
rectors of the Branches of the United States bank, at Lex- 
ington and Louisville. The members of Congress from Ken- 
tucky favourable to the new Administration, are under the 
impression, that during the late elections In that State, great 
facilities, by the state banks, were given to those persons, who 
were favourable to the re-election of Mr Adams, whilst al- 
most all accomodation was withheld from the other side of the 
contest. This impression may have arisen, perhaps, from the 
fact, that the Directors were favourable to the Administra- 
tion, and on that account Injustice may have been done them. 
It Is to be expected, where party spirit has no limit, that 
jealousies of every kind will be cherished against political op- 
ponents, and by this means, the fairest course of conduct, may 
be grossly misrepresented. But, where the Impression of un- 
fairness exists, the effect on society and on our Institutions 
may be deeply Injurious, without any substantial foundation. 
It would therefore seem to be sound policy, to guard against 
every appearance of Wrong. And it is submitted with great 
deference, whether It would not be advisable to make the 
selection of Directors for the branches In Kentucky, from 
both political parties, where persons can be found belong- 
ing to both, who are equally competent and entitled to the 
public confidence. 

Being friendly to the Bank myself, I should regret to see 
a political crusade got up against It. Some, I know are ready 
to engage In this course, but I wish there number may be 
small. 

I have no doubt, you will agree with me, that every monied 
institution should remain free from political connections, and 



'To Samuel Smith 65 

that every just measure, which may be calculated to pre- 
serve it free from party influence, should be adopted.^ 

BiDDLE TO Samuel Smith 

PhiK Jany 5. 1829 
Dear Sir 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 
2^ inst, in which you mention your being about to make 
a favorable report on the nomination of Directors of the 
B. U. S. but wished previously to know "what amount of 
accommodation had been granted to each by way of dis- 
count." I feel some regret at declining to answer any inquiry 
of yours — and as you know have given full & frank in- 
formation on every topic connected with the administration 
of the Bank. But a question involving the private affairs of 
my colleagues is of a totally different character. The account 
which any individual keeps with the Bank is a private con- 
cern between him & the Bank of which it would be a viola- 
tion of confidence to speak. The information sought more- 
over would be useless unless its tendency was to show that 
the individual had borrowed too much — a fact which would 
tend to prove not merely the want of personal independence 
on the part of the borrower, but also fix on the Board of Di- 
rectors the imputation of suffering him to borrow too much 
— to neither of which could I with propriety give counte- 
nance without a departure from that course of delicacy in 
regard to the private concerns of individuals which I think 
due equally to them & to myself. My feeling on that subject 

^ A discussion of the charges against the Kentucky Branches can be found in 
Sen. Doc, No. 17, 23d Cong., 2d Sess., Report of the Committee on Finance with 
Documents. 



66 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

is very strong. I have for instance been a director of the Bank 
for nine years — I have been its presiding officer for six years. 
I have never borrowed a dollar from the Bank ^ & trust that 
I never shall. And yet if it were made a question whether I 
had borrowed one dollar or one million of dollars I would not 
answer the enquiry, to be made President of the U.S. be- 
cause it goes to establish an inquisition into the private af- 
fairs of individuals which is equally unjust & invidious. I do 
not think myself at liberty therefore to state any thing with 
regard to those who keep their accounts in the Bank. . . . 

P.S. We have just made a dividend of 3| per cent with a 
surplus on our last six months business of more than ^100,000 
so that the operations of the year close with a dividend of 
7 per cent & a surplus of profits of ^224,000. 

RoswELL L. Colt to Biddle 

Paterson 7 January 1829 
Dear Biddle 

I saw a friend in New York who is intimate with 
Cambreleng & speaking about the Presidents message, he 
told me that three months ago Cambreleng advised him to 
sell out his Bank Shares — for that the Administration were 
hostile to the Bank that the Bank had not meet the public 
estimation, by producing an uniform currency & that its 
charter would not be renewed & that the Gov* would creat 
a new Bank a National one to be located at Washington 

1 Protection against the personal affairs of the Bank was the keynote of 
Biddle's administration. At all times the President refused to allow investigation 
of the internal workings of the institution until the Bank war broke out in all its 
fury. Then, in order to show that the Bank had nothing to conceal, he allowed 
it to take place. But, as a rule, he gave the inquisitor little assistance with the re- 
sult that the latter was overwhelmed with a mass of abstract data. 



'To yohn Harper 67 

with Branches only In such States as should pass a law author- 
ising it & made use of very Similar objections to the Bank — as 
those introduced into the message — from which he infers that 
Van Beuren was consulted on that part of the message. . . . 

BiDDLE TO John Harper ^ 

Bank of the U States 
(^-private) Jany 9, 1829 

Dear Sir 

The annexed list has been sent to me from Washing- 
ton, as containing the views of several members of Congress 
from Kentucky in regard to a proper direction for your Office. 
It is accompanied by an expression of opinion on their part — 
not to me directly, but thro' a common friend — that during 
the elections in Kentucky, great facilities were given by the 
Branches in that State, to persons favorable to the reelection 
of Mr Adams, whilst almost all accommodation was withheld 
from the other side of the contest. I will not believe for a mo- 
ment that this is not a mistake. The officers of the Bank have 
hitherto so studiously avoided all interference in politics, 
that I think it scarcely possible that any gentlemen con- 
nected with it, should so far forget their duty as to become 
partizans, or abuse their delicate trusts to the unworthy pur- 
pose of advancing any political object. The statement is how- 
ever made, and the nomination subjoined is I presume in- 
tended to prevent the recurrence of similar favoritism in 
future by an union of parties in the Board. As you are about 
to forward a new list, I will state to you precisely my views 
on that subject. 
Politics should be rigorously excluded from the adminis- 

* Cashier of Branch at Lexington, Kentucky. 



68 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

tration of the Bank. In selecting Directors, the first consider- 
ations [should be] integrity, independence, & knowledge of 
business. No man should be shunned, & no man should be 
sought on account of his political opinions merely. Neverthe- 
less in a community where broad political divisions prevail, 
we must not be wholly insensible to them — we must not 
exclude, nor even seem to exclude, any one particular denomi- 
nation of politicians; but where both present candidates of 
equal merits, we should take them from both parties. But 
still the first question is, their qualifications, distinct from 
their political opinions. I would not however be disposed to 
act on any regular system of equally uniting both parties 
because the inevitable effect of it would be to force upon us 
inferior men, merely because they were politicians. I have 
myself an extreme unwillingness to blend politics with the 
concerns of the Bank. Nearly all its misfortunes may be 
traced to this cause, & in your section of the country we 
have surely had a melancholy experience of the hazard of 
lending to politicians. Since you have been relieved from 
them, your affairs have prospered, and you are doing so 
well that I do not wish to disturb your progress by an infu- 
sion of politics. But at the same time, we must avoid the 
odium, which would naturally & justly attach to the exclu- 
sion of any party from its proper share in the government 
& the loans of the Bank. ... 

Biddle to John McLean 

{Confidential) Phila. Jan^. lo, 1829 

My dear Sir, 

There is one topic in my letter to you of this day, on 
which I did not wish to enlarge lest it might appear invidious. 



71? yohn McLean 69 

but which is very fruitful of admonition. The truth is, that 
almost all the misfortunes of the Bank of the United States, 
are traceable, directly or indirectly, to politics. In Kentucky 
the losses were in a great measure incurred by loans to prom- 
inent politicians of all sides whose influence procurred them 
undue facilities which ended, as frequently happens, in such 
cases, by ruining them as well as cripling the Branches. These 
things have made us sensitive on that point, & unwilling to 
see any great political influence introduced, which might lead 
to a recurrence of similar misfortunes. 

BiDDLE TO John McLean 

Bank of the U. States. 
Jan^. II, 1829. 
My dear Sir — 

I thank you very sincerely for your favor of the 5*^ 
inst. with its inclosures. . . . 

On the general question, I concur entirely in your views, 
which are, in fact, those which prevail in the administration 
of the Bank. Our theory is, that the Bank should studiously 
abstain from all interference in politics, & there is not an 
officer of the Institution who does not know that his stand- 
ing & his place too, depend on his strict observance of this 
principle. I believe also that they have hitherto been faithful 
to it. I have never heard of any suspicion even, that any 
officer of the Bank has intermeddled with politics, except on 
one occasion, and that suspicion, I am satisfied after inquiry, 
was without foundation.^ 

In regard to Directors, the first considerations undoubt- 
edly are, integrity, independence & knowledge of business. 
* Cf. letter of Biddle to George Hoffman, November 22, 1829. 



yo Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

No man should be excluded, no man should be sought, 
merely on account of his political sentiments. Nevertheless, 
in a community where broad political distinctions prevail, 
we must not be insensible to them, — we must not reject, 
nor even seem to reject, any denomination of politicians, & 
where we have the means of selecting persons equally compe- 
tent from all parties, their political opinions ought not to be 
overlooked. Still, however, in choosing Directors, who borrow 
themselves & who lend to others, the funds belonging to the 
Gov^ and to the Stockholders, their personal independence, 
& their fitness for that particular duty must be the primary 
inquiry — their political preferences only a secondary concern. 
The great hazard of any system of equal division of parties 
at a Board is, that it almost inevitably forces upon you in- 
competent or inferior persons, in order to adjust the numeri- 
cal balance of Directors. For instance, the Board at Nash- 
ville naturally consists of the political friends of General 
Jackson — that at Boston, of the friends of M' Adams (tho', 
such is the fate of politicians, I am not so sure of that now) 
and this is not from any principle of political selection or ex- 
clusion, but because the best agents for managing monied 
concerns, happened to be on that side — just as the best 
lawyer or the best merchant of these places, would prob- 
ably be in favor of their respective candidates — but if, 
with a view to redress this inequality, we were to intro- 
duce incompetent persons, the Bank might sustain serious 
injury. 

In the Branches we naturally look to the confidential offi-" 
cers of the Bank (the Cashier who is appointed by the Parent 
Board, and the President of the Branch) to nominate suitable 
persons to fill the vacancies as they occur by rotation, and if, 



71? yohn McLean 7 1 

after inquiring from other independent sources, we see no 
reason to distrust their judgment, we generally lean to their 
nomination. This is the safest general practice, because if we 
at a distance place in the Direction gentlemen without know- 
ing their precise pecuniary situation, we may introduce in- 
dividuals who have already borrowed too much, or wish to 
borrow too much, or who have needy friends whose claims 
they may urge successfully while sitting at the Board, when 
they might otherwise be resisted. In regard to the Branches 
in Kentucky, they have met with enormous losses — not less 
perhaps than $600,000 — and a great portion of this not on 
business loans, the legitimate object of Banking, but on ac- 
comodation paper which should never have found its way 
into the Branches. This melancholy experience has induced 
us to give a more commercial & business-like character to 
their transactions, and they have naturally fallen into the 
hands of business men, who have managed their affairs very 
well. These Branches were never in so sound & prosperous 
a state as at this moment — never did business so usefully 
to the community & so profitably to the Bank. Being per- 
fectly satisfied with their progress, & perceiving that the set 
of gentlemen in the Direction are nearly the same who have 
been there for four or five years, I have not examined their 
relation to the political parties which have grown up princi- 
pally since they were first introduced into the Boards. I was 
not even aware, until I received your letter, of any political 
preponderance either way, in the Directions of the Branches, 
nor did I suppose it possible that they would abuse their 
trusts to any political object. ... 



72 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

BiDDLE TO JOSIAH NiCHOL EsQ.^ 

Bank of the United States 
June 23'"'^ 1829 
Dear Sir 

. . . We are obliged to receive and glad to receive nom- 
inations from any respectable quarter, & always treat them 
with respect — but you must not suspect that any particular 
consideration is given to nominations from Washington. With 
Washington, in its character as the seat of Gov^, the Bank 
has no concern. It has in fact nothing to do with the Gov^ 
except that in administering the national finances, it will give 
its aid cordially and sincerely to every administration. But 
with no administration will it have any political connexion. 
Nor would the Influence of the President and all the Depart- 
ments put together be sufficient to appoint a single Director 
who was not considered qualified for his trust. This Independ- 
ence forms the point of honor with the Bank. You must 
not, therefore, believe for a moment, that any Influence from 
any quarter could Interfere with the regular course of our 
nominations or prevent our consulting you and our friends 
in Nashville on a subject of so much Importance as the choice 
of those to whom the prosperity of the Bank is entrusted.^ 

BiDDLE TO Robert Lenox 

Phil^ July 6'^ 1829 
My dear Sir, 

... I intended when I saw you to ask you to procure 
for me some information. The Office at Portsmouth ^ had 

' President of the Nashville Branch. Woodbridge, J. (editor), History of Nash- 
ville (Nashville, 1890), p. 283. 

^ Cf., however, Biddle's later conversation with Major Lewis; Riddle to Lewis, 
May 3, 1830. 

» This is the opening of the celebrated Portsmouth affair. Biddle had al- 



From Walter Dun 7 3 

got into a very bad way and great losses will be sustained 
there. In order however to repair them as much as possible 
we placed at the head of it M*". Jeremiah Mason, who has been 
very busy and very useful in securing our old bad debts and 
preventing new ones. This operation you know, is not a pleas- 
ant one — & has raised against M"^ Mason a number of ene- 
mies who complain loudly. Such complaints are generally ill 
founded, & we are disposed to receive them with great dis- 
trust. At the same time it is proper not to disregard them 
and I should like to know from an authentic source whether 
there is any foundation for them. . . . 

Robert Lenox to BmoLE 

New York 7 t July 1829 
My Dear Sir 

Your favor of the 6th inst is before me. I have long 
been aware of the existance of the uneasiness which prevails in 
Portsmouth. I knew it would exist as long ago as when I was 
there last Summer and at the time the appointment was made 
and the Salary fixed — any man that would do his duty under 
the Circumstances that exist, would be unpopular; but as the 
old saying is, "one man may Steal a Sheap while another 
dare not look over the fence." . . . 

Walter Dun to BmDLE 

Lexington Ky. August 14''', 1829 
Dear Sir 

In a confidential conversation with John Tilford^ 
Esq^ a few days ago, I learned that a charge of partiality had 

ready written to Levi Woodbury, later Secretary of the Treasury, in reply to 
charges against Mason and it was to follow up this complaint that he now wrote 
to Lenox. 

1 Major John Tilford, President of the Northern Bank of Kentucky. A close 



74 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

been made against the Cashier and directory of the Branch 
of the United States Bank, at this place, in the administration 
of the business of the office: of discounting more freely the 
paper of the friends of the administration than that of their 
poHticai opponents, and thereby permitting poUtical feelings 
to influence them in loaning the money of the Bank. 

I was, as you know, appointed, last winter, a director of 
that office; and I am the only one, in the direction, who was 
in favor of the election, and who is friendly to the adminis- 
tration, of General Jackson. Since my appointment I have 
been pretty punctual in my attendance at the meetings of the 
board; and I am happy to be able to say that, since my attend- 
ance there, the charge of partiality is entirely groundless : in 
no single Instance have the political opinions of applicants 
for discounts, ever been mentioned by any gentleman in the 
direction; the solvency and punctuality, of the drawers and 
endorsers of offered paper, are the only questions that have 
been discussed there. In cases, too, of indulgence, the direc- 
tors, in granting or refusing them, have been influenced by 
reasons affecting the Interest of the Bank, and not by politi- 
cal considerations. 1 can say more: from the character of the 
paper which became due after my appointment, but which 
was discounted before, I am certain that equal impartiality 
governed the board at the time it was discounted. 

So far, then, as my observation extends, no charge can 
be more unfounded; nor can I believe, from my acquaintance 
with the gentlemen In the direction, and particularly with 
Mr. Tilford the President, and M"" Harper the Cashier, that 
the charge was ever true. With the greatest respect I am, 

friend of R. M. Johnson of Kentucky, later Vice-President under Van Buren. Cf. 
Johnson MSS. in Library of Congress. 



71? A, Dickins 75 



BiDDLE TO General Thomas Cadwalader 

On board the Steam Boat off 
Point Judith 

Aug*. 28, 1829 
My dear Sir, 

... I can now say with the utmost confidence that the 
whole is a paltry intrigue got up by a combination of small 
bankrupts & smaller Demagogues — that if the choice were 
to be made again, we ought to choose M"" Mason — and that 
to have him out or not to support him fully would be to suf- 
fer ourselves to be tramped down by the merest rabble. . . . 

BiDDLE TO A. Dickins 

{Private) Philada: Septr. i6, 1829 

My dear Sir 

I received yesterday your favor of the 13'^ Instant, & 
thank you for Its suggestions, which are, I am sure dictated 
by great kindness. But I cannot go to Washington at present. 
I find here a state of things which I really think I had no rea- 
son to anticipate. No man, not the noisiest partlzan in the 
country has taken more pains to make the financial opera- 
tions of the administration useful to the country & creditable 
to themselves. And what is the return. Constant abuse of the 
Bank from the press which is the official organ of that Ad- 
ministration — during my absence the Secretary at War ^ 
makes a most extraordinary notation of Its rights — and now 
I have on my table an official communication of the views 
of the Administration as to the manner In which the Bank 
ought to choose & remove its Officers. For the two first I 

* John H. Eaton of Tennessee. 



76 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

care nothing, except so far as they may indicate the disposi- 
tion to condemn & to encroach, but the last cannot be passed 
without notice. It is regarded generally by the Board as show- 
ing a determination to injure the independence of the Bank, 
on a point where it is peculiarly sensitive as well from duty as 
from honor, & accordingly they think that it should be re- 
sisted at all hazards. And so it shall be. I have sent today 
to the Secretary their unanimous views on the subject, in 
which none of the members concur more heartily than the 
friends of the Administration.^ 

1 regret all this exceedingly. You know my indifference to 
Party & how well disposed I was to act cordially with the 
present Administration — & particularly with your new Sec- 
retary. But having done my duty to them, I will not give way 
an inch in what concerns the independence of the Bank, to 
please all the Administrations past, present or future.^ 

The bigots of the last reproached me with nothing for them 
— the bigots of the present will be annoyed that the Bank 
will not support them. Be it so, I care nothing for either class 
of partizans & mean to disregard both. 

The Portsmouth affair I found after an examination of six 
days, to be a very small intrigue to supplant an honest & 
excellent officer, who was of course continued in his place. 

Having by my official letter of to day, satisfied my sense 
of duty by rejecting all interference in the concerns of the 
Bank, I have no further feeling on the occasion, & shall in any 
event take care that as far as I am concerned the relations of 
the Bank with the Treasury shall be as kindly as heretofore. 

^ The correspondence between Biddle and Secretary Ingham is fully dis- 
cussed. Bassett, op. cit., vol. ii, pp. 594-597. 

2 Dickins later claimed that Ingham was innocent of the inception of the 
attack. 



'To A, Dickins 77 

BiDDLE TO A. Dickins Esq 

Phil^ Septr. 30^^. 1829 
My dear Sir 

The mail of this morning brought me your favor of the 
28^^ inst. the business part of which was immediately ar- 
ranged. 

I regret, my dear Sir, this controversy as much as you can 
& would gladly have shunned it, but believing that it is safer 
for the country to have no Bank than to have It subject to 
political influences, it was impossible not to resist these pre- 
tensions from so many quarters to Interfere in its admin- 
istration. In doing this I am not conscious of having gone 
beyond the limits of a necessary self defence; and no one 
would regret more than I would, If I thought you right in 
believing that the Board had persisted in imputing to M' 
Ingham ^ a purpose which he has disavowed. But what the 
Board imputed to him & what has he disavowed.'' He has in so 
many words, sent to the Board the views of the administra- 
tion as to the mode in which they ought to choose and dis- 
miss their officers saying that it Is his "high public duty" to 
communicate It & their "very high obligation" to conform 
to it. All that the Board have answered Is, that he had no 
right to give advice — and that If he had, the advice is bad. 
They have never Imputed to him a design to acquire undue 
influence — they have only said that his theory would lead 
to it. They have never imputed to him a connexion with the 
movements of other people — they have only cited these 
movements in Illustration of the danger of his theory. I hope 

^ Secretary of the Treasury for President Jackson. Resigned when the Cabi- 
net was broken up presumably on account of Mrs. Eaton. 



78 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

most sincerely that he has no such connexion & would be 
the first to render justice to him whenever an opportunity 
occurs. For really he ought not, and I am sure will not ascribe 
to us the least unkindness toward him. To show you the 
temper in which this whole matter has been conducted, I will 
mention a simple fact. The only political character in the 
Board IsM"". Sergeant and he was a member of the Committee 
to whom M'". Inghams first letter was referred. But so fearful 
was I lest any political bias should Interfere, that I would not 
communicate with M"". Sergeant — nor was he consulted until 
during my absence his professional opinion was asked about 
the removal of the Pension Office, he being the standing coun- 
sel of the Bank. Moreover of the five gentlemen composing 
that Committee, two were the political friends of Gen'. 
Jackson. All our predispositions therefore were kindly, and it 
was not until the feelings & the spirit of the Board were 
wounded, that they were compelled to vindicate the inde- 
pendence of the Institution. 

Having done this, all feeling has subsided & it will remain for 
the Secretary himself to restore the relations of the Bank & the 
Treasury to their former friendly footing. He has only to say 
that we have misapprehended him — that he did not claim 
a right to interfere with the concerns of the Bank — and had 
nothing to do with the movement, of these other people — 
and I should immediately say, as I have no doubt the Board 
would say, that the explanation was very agreeable — that 
we regretted any misapprehension, and any expression on 
the part of the Board which might be considered as applying 
to a supposed design to interfere would of course be inappli- 
cable on the present occasion. This I think he might do with 
great propriety and I am sure that he would be met in the 



From William B. Lewis 79 

most friendly temper. He ought to do it, because I think he 
began this whole business. My impression is that he would 
have done well to say in answer to M"" Woodbury that he 
should apply to the Bank and not to the Treasury there be- 
ing a peculiar awkwardness in any interference on the part 
of the Sec^. Not having done so he has become inevitably 
blended with these other movements of a parcel of intriguers, 
all participation in which, he owes it to himself to disclaim. 
No one will be better pleased than I shall be at his doing so. 
I had intended on my return from the North to explain to 
the Sec^ the whole machiner}^ of this cabal of which he was 
to have been made the unconscious instrument & to put him 
on his guard against similar machinations in future. But the 
tone of his second letter made me abstain from any thing 
which might be misconstrued into an acknowledgement that 
he was entitled to any such explanations. . . . 

William B. Lewis ^ to Biddle 

Washington Octr. 16^'' 1829 
D. Sir, 

Your letter of the 14th Inst, inclosing one from M^ 
Dun of Lexington, was received by the mail of yesterday 
morning. I have not the pleasure of being personally ac- 
quainted with M"" Dun, but am told by those who know him, 
that he is a highly reputable gentleman. His letter, as re- 
quested, has been shown to the President who, with compli- 
ments, desires me to express to you his thanks for the in- 
formation it contains. He certainly has been led to believe, 
from the complaints of his friends, during the pendency 
of the presidential election, that the Lexington Branch in 
^ A member of the Kitchen Cabinet and a dose friend of President Jackson. 



8o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

disbursing its golden favours, in the way of discounts, had 
manifested great partiality. It is gratifying to him however, 
he says, to learn that probably there was no just cause for 
those complaints, or at least, that they probably had been 
much exaggerated. He requests me to say, that he has too 
much confidence in you to believe, for a moment, that you 
should knowingly tolerate such conduct in the Branches of 
your Bank; but from the complaints which are still made with 
regard to some of them, particularly the one at New Orleans, 
he thinks it not improbable that party feeling may yet have 
some influence upon their operations. He hopes this may 
not be the case, but an inquiry into the cause of those com- 
plaints, and a removal of the ground if there be any for them, 
is an object, he thinks, worthy the attention of the Parent 
Bank. The President thinks, as you do, that the Bank of the 
U. States should recognise no party; and that, in all its opera- 
tions, it should have an eye single to the interest of the Stock- 
holders and the good of the country. . . . 

Biddle to William B. Lewis 

PhIK Oct'. 2i^S 1829 
Dear Sir 

Your favor of the 16^^. inst. was very acceptable as it 
satisfied me of what I could never permit myself to doubt, 
that the views of the President were in perfect accordance 
with those of the Bank In regard to the exclusion of party 
feelings from Its administration. The fact is that among the 
Directors, it Is considered not simply a duty, but a point of 
honor, not to yield to party spirit — and they would anx- 
iously & zealously prevent, or punish it should it occur on 
the part of any of their Officers. 



From Matthew L. Bevan 8 1 

I cannot give you a stronger proof of that disposition than 
this letter will afford. You remark in your favor of the 16*^'^ 
inst. that complaint, had reached the President of politi- 
cal feelings shown in the direction of the Branch at New Or- 
leans. The Cashier of that Branch is here & on the point of 
sailing for New Orleans. But I have instructed him to go 
immediately to Washington, to satisfy the President, which 
I think he can readily do, that the statements he has heard, 
are erroneous, and at any rate to hear precisely what the al- 
legations are in order that on his arrival at New Or- 
leans he may furnish the necessary refutation of them. It 
is the purpose of this letter to request that you will have 
the goodness to put M*" Jaudon ^ in the way of attaining this 
object. He is a gentleman of high character and capacity 
— inferior to no other Officer in the Bank & with very few 
equals in the country for intelligence and knowledge of 
business. 

It will afford me great pleasure to see you when you visit 
Philad^. & in the mean time I remain 

Matthew L. Bevan ^ to Biddle 

Private Washington City Oct'' 21' 1829 

My dear Sir 

... I cannot withhold a moment the pleasure it give 
me in saying that the result of my visit is most satisfactory, 
in as much as the President expressed himself in the most clear 
and decided manner friendly to the Bank "that it was a 
blessing to the Country administered as it was, diffusing a 
healthful! circulation, sustaining the general credit without 

* Samuel Jaudon, Cashier of the Bank and trusted friend of Biddle. 

* Later President of the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania. 



82 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

partlalllty or political bias " that he entertained a high re- 
gard for its excellent President (I use his own words) who 
with the Board of the Parent Bank possess'd his entire 
confidence and indeed his thanks for the readiness and 
cordiality with which they seemed to meet views of the 
Government — he said it was true many complaints had . 
been made of partiality in the Branches in Kentucky and 
New Orleans, but further added if these complaints have 
any Just foundation, he was persuaded the Parent board 
knew nothing of them, and if they did would not sanction 
them. . . . 

Samuel Jaudon to Biddle 

Philadelphia, Oct' 26^^ 1829 
Dr Sir, 

Agreeably to your Instructions, I proceeded on Thurs- 
day last to Washington City, for the purpose of inquiring 
into the reports which had reached the Government of the 
exercise at the Office in New Orleans of a political influence 
unfavorable to the present Administration. In this visit, I 
had the good fortune to be accompanied by John Hagan, 
Esquire, one of the Directors of our Office, and a personal as 
well as political friend of the President. 

Immediately after our arrival there on Friday morning, we 
called on Major Lewis, to whom I handed your letter, which 
introduced a free and full conversation. In reply to my in- 
quiries he stated, that letters had been received from New 
Orleans containing accusations, in general terms, that the 
Board of the Office there were actuated in the performance 
of their duties by political feelings hostile to the Administra- 
tion, but that no specific charges had as yet been made. I re- 



From Samuel yaudon 8 3 

marked, that we could only meet general accusations by gen- 
eral denials, and that I did deny in the most unqualified man- 
ner that there was the least ground for the charge; that I 
could appeal confidently to the Books of the Office to shew 
that no paper had been rejected but upon sufficient commer- 
cial grounds; that if any specific charges should be preferred, 
I should be able to give the most convincing proofs that our 
Board had acted only on the strictest Banking principles with- 
out the least reference to party views or partialities — and 
that I knew that I should be fully borne out in these asser- 
tions by those of our present as well as former Directors 
who are the personal and political friends of the President. 
These statements, and others which I urged of a similar na- 
ture, were unhesitatingly seconded and confirmed by M"^ 
Hagan. Major Lewis expressed himself perfectly satisfied, 
and promised to communicate to the President your letter 
and our representations; and he invited us to call upon the 
President in the evening. 

We accordingly did call, and were received by the Presi- 
dent in the most friendly manner. After conversing for some 
time upon general subjects, the President remarked, that 
some letters had been received from New Orleans containing 
charges against the Office there of the perversion of its in- 
fluence to party purposes, but that he was pleased to find 
from your letter to Major Lewis, and from the assurances of 
Mr. Hagan and myself, that there was no foundation for 
these charges ; that party feelings, he knew, often blinded the 
judgment, and led us to imagine faults where none existed, 
and that men were particularly apt to make a charge of the 
kind alluded to against a Bank which, with however good 
reason, withheld from them its favors; that he was entirely 



84 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

convinced that no hostility to his administration was exer- 
cised by the Board of the Parent Bank, and that in reference 
to yourself particularly he had the most unbounded confi- 
dence in the purity of your intentions ; that the support which 
you had given to the financial operations of the Government 
was of the most gratifying as well as eff"ectual kind, and that 
he wished for nothing from the Bank but its cordial and lib- 
eral cooperation in matters of this nature. He should have 
been satisfied, he said, by your letter alone of the want of 
any foundation for the accusations against the Office at New 
Orleans; and from my unqualified denials as well as my readi- 
ness to meet the charges, and from the testimony of M"" Hagan, 
not the least doubt remained on his mind. He appeared to be 
much gratified, that we should have paid this visit with the 
sole view of obliterating unfounded impressions, evincing as 
it did the wish of the Bank to remove all obstacles to the most 
perfect good understanding. 

Throughout our interview, which lasted for an hour, the 
tone and manner of the President were of the most mild 
and friendly character, and both M"" Hagan and myself 
took our leave under the full conviction that we had to 
the extent of our wishes accomplished the object of our 
visit. I do not pretend, to have given you the precise lan- 
guage of the President, tho' I have followed it as far as my 
recollection serves. 

Extract from William B. Lewis to Henry Toland 

Washington Nov^ 9, 1829 
Say to M"" Biddle the President is much gratified with the 
report I have made him upon the subject of his Bank, all 
things with regard to it will be well. 



From JVilliam B. Lewis 8 5 



From the Same to the Same 

Nov^ II, 1829 
If you see M"" Biddle say to him the President would be 
glad to see his proposition for sinking or paying off the three 
per cent Stock. ^ He had better write to me when his leisure 
will permit & I will submit it to the General. I think we will 
find the old fellow will do justice to the Bank in his message 
for the handsome manner in which it assisted the Gov^ in 
paying the last instalment of the National debt.^ 

William B. Lewis to Biddle 

Washington Nov^ 15^^^ 1829 
D. Sir, 

I wrote last evening to Mr H. Toland ^ informing 
him that some of his friends here were anxious that he should 
be run for the appointment of Clerk to the House of Repre- 
sentatives in Congress. I think, if he will consent to serve, 
he can be elected, and he should not, it seems to me object to 
it. I wish you would see and advise with him on this subject. 
There is a very large majority of the members of the next 
Congress in favour of the present Administration, and I am 
sure there can be no wish on their part to reelect M'^ Clark (e)* 
nor do 1 believe the opposition members have any partiality 
for him. If Toland will consent to let his friends place his 
name before the House, you can serve him very efficiently, 
I have no doubt, by speaking to Webster and enlisting him 
and other New England members in his behalf. I am sure 

^ For a discussion of this topic, cf. Catterall, op. ciU, pp. 146, 151, 269-273. 

^ This extract is in Biddle 's own handwriting. 

^ Representative from Pennsylvania. 

* Matthew St. Clair Clarke of Pennsylvania. 



86 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

they can have no predelections in favour of Clark, and with 
a little pains could be got to vote for Toland. M"" Ingham 
for particular reasons will support M"" Clark, and such of the 
Penn^. delegation as are under his influence (D*" Sutherland ^ 
and two or three others) will vote for him; but I have no 
doubt, a decided majority would support our friend. It will 
be well to see M"" Hemphill,^ and converse with him upon 
the subject, and if he should be favourably disposed, get 
him to write to his friends — particularly Judge Wilkins ^ of 
Pittsburgh, and old M'' Ross. You will have a fine opportu- 
nity of seeing your Eastern friends (I mean such as you can 
venture to speak to) as they pass thro' Phil^. on their way to 
Congress, and enlisting them in the support of Toland. 

I have taken the liberty, my dear sir, of writing to you upon 
this subject, because I know you feel, as I do, a deep interest 
in the welfare of M"^ Toland, and will most cheerfully aid in 
whatever may tend to his benefit. Should he be appointed 
Clerk to the House it may lead to results still more impor- 
tant to him — it may ultimately be the means of relieving 
him from his pecuniary embarrassments, 

I intimated in my letter to him, of last night, that should 
he consent to be a candidate, it might be well to let it be an- 
nounced in one of your papers &c. On reflection I am inclined 
to think it would be best to say nothing about it in the papers 
— instead of that course it would be better for Toland to write 
to some of the leading members elect. 

I have no hesitation in saying that he will be supported by 
all the leading and personal friends of the President here — 

1 Representative from Pennsylvania. - Representative from Pennsylvania. 

* President of the Bank of Pittsburgh and President of the Pittsburgh Manu- 
facturing Company. Senator from Pennsylvania, 1831-1834. Later Minister to 
Russia and Secretary of War in Tyler's Cabinet. 



"To George Hoffman 87 

such as Major Barry,^M'. Van Buren, Major Eaton, Major 
Smith, Major Campbell &c &c. In fact I think if he will con- 
sent to let his name be run that he can be elected. Should he 
determine on this he ought to come on here, at least two 
weeks before Congress meets. Write me in relation to this 
scheme.'^ 

BiDDLE TO George Hoffman 

Washington Nov^ 22°^^ 1829 
Dear Sir 

. . . The best feelings are entertained toward the bank 
by those whose opinions are most valuable and most useful. 
I am very desirous of making & for that purpose, am par- 
ticularly sollcitlous to avoid giving, at the present moment, 
any occasion for the revival of a jealousy which has been re- 
cently and deeply felt, In regard to the apparent exclusion or 
omission from the Local Boards of persons favorable to the 
present administration. My stay In Baltimore was too short 
to allow me to consult with you on the subject, but M^ Colt 
mentioned the names of five gentlemen who were to be 
nominated and all of whom, it appeared, were in opposition 
to the present administration so that out of the whole 13, 
there are only two gentlemen who are in political harmony 
with the administration. You know, my dear Sir, how en- 
tirely Indifferent I am to what are called politics & how un- 
willing I am to introduce things of that kind Into the affairs 

* Postmaster-General under Jackson. 

2 The whole plan ultimately failed, as the Pennsylvania delegation, with the 
exception of Mr. Hemphill, determined to support Mr. Clarke. Accordingly To- 
land's name was not even submitted as a candidate. However, the real importance 
of this letter lies in the fact that Lewis broached Biddle on the subject. The letter 
indicates that Lewis was trying to get in touch with Biddle on political affairs and 
that he fully realized the latter's influence. 



88 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

of the Bank. At the same time, it is proper in itself, as 
well as highly expedient, not to give unnecessary offence 
& not to do anything which might have the appearance 
of partiality. I am afraid that this great disproportion, tho' 
entirely accidental, may be the ground of objection & re- 
proach. ... 

Alexander Hamilton ^ to Biddle 

New York Dec. lo^^ 1829 
Dear Sir. 

If, after the receipt of your first letter, sufficient time 
had remained for any valuable Interference, on your part, at 
Washington, and you had not appeared quite so confident In 
your conclusions, I should have endeavoured to prove, that 
you were under a delusion. The die is now cast; ^ It there- 
fore, only remains for you, to make the best of an unpromis- 
ing cause. I have no doubt the executive was perfectly sin- 
cere, and of this there Is Internal evidence sufficient. In the 
alternative he proposes. I am confident, had the subject been 
examined by him, without Influence, he never would, for a 
moment, have entertained the project of establishing a Na- 
tional Bank, the dangerous tendencies of which are so entirely 
at variance with his patriotism. 

As I have trespassed thus far, I feel, as If I would rather 
proceed, than retreat, with an assurance of my best re- 
spects. 

1 Son of the great Alexander Hamilton. Born May 16, 1786; died August 2, 
1875. With the Duke of Wellington in Portugal in 181 1 and served as aide-de-camp 
to General Morgan Lewis in 181 4. In 1823 one of the three United States Florida 
Land Commissioners. Last years spent in real estate speculations in New York. 

2 Cf. Richardson, J. D. (editor), Messages and Papers of the Presidents (Wash- 
ington, 1896-1899), vol. II, p. 462. 



From Alexander Hamilton 89 

In presenting to your consideration, the reflections that 
have occurred in my mind, I can forsee no injury, and conse- 
quently offer them gratuitously. In the first place, I would 
suggest the propriety of abstaining from the expression of 
any opinion intimating a want of fairness and integrity in the 
President; I am satisfied he feels no personal hostility and 
consequently no conduct of the bank ought to create such a 
feeling. I would next observe, have no confidence in Van 
Beuren; ^ as an aspirant for the Chief Magistracy, he is with- 
out principle, and totally destitute of sincerity. In the West, 
especially in Kentucky, the friends of the Administration are 
against you, & on the majority in this State, you can make as 
little calculation; these are sufficient causes to govern this 
gentleman; he may smile and seem gratious, it will only be 
to deceive. Under these circumstances, do you not think it 
would be very unwise policy to make any application to Con- 
gress, in relation to the Bank at the present session t You can 
lose nothing by the delay, and may acquire, independent of 
the opportunity to explain the character of your operations, 
the nature of the exchanges and the absolute impossibility, 
in any well regulated and decently administered Institution, 
to equalize the currency, the chance of some political changes, 
either here or in Europe, which may have propitious influence 
on the measures of our government. To anticipate any con- 
gressional patronage, in the existing state of things, in direct 
opposition to the President's avowed sentiments, the secret 
but artful hostility of aiming intriguers, with the whole host 
of Jackson Papers, would be to encourage expectations, cer- 
tain to be disappointed, and if unsuccessful, ruinous. There 

1 This is the accepted view of Van Buren by the followers of the Bank, as is 
shown by the later correspondence. 



90 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

can be no doubt as to the difficulties you will have to encoun- 
ter, and there is as little question that precaution is your only 
dependence. 

The affairs of the Bank must not be brought under discus- 
sion, through Siny friendly suggestion; if its opponents should 
commence the charge, the defence would afford a fair oppor- 
tunity for explanation, and one a less ungracious to expose the 
anti republican scheme of a government bank, and the absurd 
expectation that the currency could be equalized by any, 
however organized. It would not be more absurd to contend 
that the government ought or could regulate our exchanges 
on Europe. These variations are the rights and consequences 
of free commercial intercourse, and any influence that pre- 
vents extravagant changes affects all that is desirable; and 
I venture to predict, if a perfect equality ever be established, 
it will be of short duration, a deleterious stagnation; the paper 
fountains would overflow, until the country was deluged with 
irresponsible emissions. It is not improbable, M'' Barbour, 
encouraged by the Executive thrust, may renew his proposi- 
tion to sell the stock held by the Government, which would 
afford a favourable opportunity for every necessary explana- 
tion; acting on the defensive, you avoid the natural preju- 
dices of the mind, to prejudge and exclude information, and 
may make friends, instead of creating enemies. The nation 
can have no interest in the sale of the stock, for whatever 
may be its present price; without the interference of the 
bank, it would bring par value; if such be the fact well un- 
derstood, the proposition would be defeated and the Bank 
will have gained, without risk, the opportunity for expla- 
nations. 

To them who have observed the political horizon with 



'To George Hoffman 9 1 

attention, there is no part of our internal history better 
established, than that the present affords no certain index 
of the future, lest it be to teach the lesson of prudence. 

I wish not to trespass longer; in the cause of the public, I am 
a volunteer, and while I do not transgress too far, harmless, 
in which situation I have the honor to be your 

BiDDLE TO Alexander Hamilton 

PhiK December 12^^ 1829 
Dear Sir 

I received this morning your favor of the lo*^^. inst. 
which I have read with great pleasure. The view it presents 
are quite sound & correspond exactly with those entertained 
here. My impression is that these opinions expressed by the 
President are entirely & exclusively his own, and that they 
should be treated as the honest tho' erroneous notions of one 
who intends well. We have never had any idea of applying to 
Congress for a renewal of the Charter at the present session 
— and of course should abstain from doing so now. Our 
whole system of conduct is one of abstinence and self defence 

BiDDLE TO George Hoffman 

Phil^ Dec'. IS, 1829 
My Dear Sir 

I had this morning the pleasure of receiving your 
favor of the 14*'^. You may readily imagine my surprize at 
seeing the remarks in the message after all I had mentioned 
to you in Baltimore. But it is better to try to repair it than to 
regret it — and I am not sure whether it may not on the whole 
do good by satisfying the country of the usefulness of the 



92 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

institution & spreading a very salutary dread of the monster 
whom it is proposed to substitute for it. The consolations on 
the present occasion are, that this is a measure emanating 
exclusively from the President in person, being the remains 
of old notions of constitutionality,^ that it is not a Cabinet 
measure nor a party measure ; that the whole foundation of the 
reproach of the want of a sound currency is so notoriously the 
very reverse of the fact; and that it has produced in all quar- 
ters the most decided disapprobation. . . . , 

BiDDLE TO Nathaniel Silsbee ^ 

PhIK Deer i;^^ 1829 
My dear Sir 

. . . But seriously, I do not feel the least anxiety about 
this sortie of the President, who with, I am sure, the best 
intentions, has erred from want of information — what I 
regret & deeply regret, is the loss of individual property which 
it will occasion and the wound it will inflict on the credit of 
the country. When I look over the list of Stockholders & see 
the number of females, of trust estates, & societies chari- 
table & religious, it is melancholy to see their interest thus 
injured. This is particularly the case with South Carolina 
which owns, what two weeks ago was worth more than five 
millions of dollars. In regard to public credit, it is very fortu- 
nate that the Chief Magistrate of the Country should make 
an official declaration of its insolvency, — should pronounce 
that what it pays to foreigners in dividends & capital & what 
it receives for revenue is an unsound paper. . . . 

^ For Jackson's early views on the Bank, cf. Bassett, op. ciL, vol. ii, pp. 589- 
590. 

? Senator from Massachusetts, 1 826-1 835. 



Memorandum 93 

Memorandum * 

Between Oct., 1829 and Jan. 1830 
Mr BIddle 

(Gen'l Jackson) I was very thankful to you for your 
plan of paying off the debt sent to Major Lewis. (N.B.) I 
thought it was my duty to submit it to you. (Gen'l Jackson) 
I would have no difficulty in recommending it to Congress, 
but I think it right to be perfectly frank with you — I do not 
think that the power of Congress extends to charter a Bank 
out of the ten mile square. I do not dislike your Bank any 
more than all banks. But ever since I read the history of the 
South Sea bubble I have been afraid of banks. 1 have read 
the opinion of John Marshall ^ who I believe was a great 
& pure mind — and could not agree with him — though if 
he had said, that as it was necessary for the purpose of the 
PiJitional gov* there ought to be a national bank I should have 
been disposed to concur; but I do not think that Congress 
has a right to create a corporation out of the 10 mile square. 
1 feel very sensibly the services rendered by the Bank at 
the last payment of the national debt & shall take an oppor- 
tunity of declarring it publicly in my message to Congress. 

1 This memorandum is in Nicholas Biddle's handwriting of a conversation 
he had with General Jackson in Washington. This letter Professor Catterall took 
for a letter of President Jackson (cf. Catterall, op. cit., p. 184), which was later 
corrected by Professor Bassett in the latter's Lije of Jackson (vol. 11, pp. 599, 600). 
However, as published in Professor Bassett's Life of Jackson the memorandum does 
not bring out the significance of the extract. In order to do this it is necessary to 
keep the two parties distinct; and with this in view the editor has designated, in 
parenthesis, whether it is Biddle or Jackson who is talking. For the correction and 
final statement on this most important point the editor is indebted to Mr. Edward 
Biddle. 

^ Marshall on McCuUoch vs. Maryland. Magruder, Allan B., John Marshall 
(Boston, 1892), pp. 194-197. 



94 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

That it Is my own feeling to the Bank — and M"" Ingham's 
also. He & you got Into a difficulty thro' the foolishness — 
If I may use the term of Mr. Hill — (N.B. writes) observ- 
ing he was a little embarrassed I said (")oh that has all 
passed now.(") He (Jackson) said with the Parent Board 
& Myself he had every reason to be perfectly satisfied — 
that he had heard complaints & then mentioned a case 
at Louisville — of which he promised to give me the par- 
ticulars. 

(N.B.) I said (") well I am very much gratified at this frank 
explanation. We shall all be proud of any kind mention in the 
message — for we should feel like soldiers after an action com- 
mended by their General. (") (Gen'l Jackson) Sir said he It 
would be only an act of justice to mention It. 

BmDLE TO Samuel Smith ^ 

PhiK Jan^ 2"^^. 1830 
My dear Sir 

. . . The expressions In the message were the Presi- 
dent's own — not dictated nor suggested by any body else 
— & Inserted In opposition to the wishes, If not the advice 
of all his habitual counsellors. It Is not therefore a cabinet 
measure, nor a party measure, but a personal measure. As 
such It Is far less dangerous because If the people know that 
this Is not an opinion which they must necessarily adopt 
as a portion of their party creed — but an opinion of the 
President alone — a very honest opinion though a very er- 
roneous one — then the question will be decided on its own 
merits. . . . 

* Cf. sketch of life in Niles, April 27, 1839. 



To jfohn Potter 95 



BiDDLE TO John Potter Esq. 

PhiK Jany 9^^ 1830 
My dear Sir 

In our conversation yesterday, you expressed a wish to 
know the situation in which the Bank stands with regard 
to Mess''^ Gales & Seaton of Washington. I will explain it to 
you with pleasure, as I presume the facts will remove an er- 
roneous impression with respect to the Bank as well as those 
gentlemen themselves. 

They were formerly in succession, Directors of the Branch 
in Washington, & their debt amounted at one time to about 
Sixty thousand dollars. In January 1828 being myself in 
Washington, I found it about Fifty thousand Dollars, which 
I thought much too high. I therefore resisted a recommenda- 
tion to place one of them in the Board & advised a reduction 
of the debt which has accordingly been done, so that I believe 
the whole responsibility of both parties does not now exceed 
between eleven & twelve thousand dollars, there having been 
paid by a sale of their property since March last more than 
^30,000. Even of the present debt, about ^5000 was not a loan 
from the Branch but was transferred from the Bank of Co- 
lumbia in the settlement of its affairs with the Branch so 
that of the sum actually lent, the amount now due is, as you 
perceive, very small. 

In Nov^ 1828, they applied for a loan of ^15,000 from the 
Parent Bank — and their application was much recommended 
by their friends on the ground of the usefulness of their paper 
and the probability of its discontinuance if the loan were not 
made. But the Board refused to make the loan. They thought 
that the only true course of the Bank was to lend its money 



96 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

on business principles and with adequate security — that no 
distinction could be made between its friends and its enemies 
and that to go out of its way to make a loan to the editors 
of a newspaper would be to depart from its system of total 
indifference and entire abstraction, with regard to politics. In 
the present case too, the Bank might place itself in the very 
unbecoming attitude of sustaining at the seat of Government 
a paper opposed to the existing administration. 

You will think well of our impartiality when I mention 
that in running my eye over the Washington Pay List, to 
see the liabilities of Mess" Gales & Seaton, I remarked that 
our friend the Editor^ of the Telegraph has between $\\ and 
$12,000 — an amount about the same as the Editors of the 
Intelligencer. In truth, you know, my dear Sir, how con- 
stantly & strenuously the Bank has resisted every thing like 
political influence believing as we all do that the moment the 
Institution is subjected to any party, whether in power or 
out of power, it becomes a curse to the country. 

I have spoken to you freely about the pecuniary affairs 
of these parties — circumstances, which as a member of the 
Board I wish you to know & I confide them entirely to your 
judgment and discretion. 

BmDLE TO John McKim Jr Esqr 

Phil^ Jan" i8^\ 1830 
Dear Sir 

I have received your friendly letter of the 16^''. inst for 
which I thank you. You ask my opinion about the fate of the 
Bank. I will tell you very frankly. I do not think this attack 

^ Duff Green of Missouri. The Telegraph was established in 1826 as a Jackson 
organ. 



From JVilliam B. Lewis 97 

upon it will do any harm, & I think it will rather benefit it. 
I think so for two reasons — First, that the ground of the 
attack (its failure to produce a sound & uniform currency) 
is well known by every man in the country to be unfounded, 
the currency issued by the Bank being more sound & uni- 
form than that of any country in the world at this moment. 
Second, the substitute proposed for it Is one which no man 
who values the liberties of the country could agree to estab- 
lish. These things will be perfectly understood before long, 
& cannot fail to operate in favor of the Bank. I think there- 
fore that the Stockholders need be under no uneasiness. The 
Bank is at this moment in a high state of prosperity, having 
during the last year divided 7 per cent, & made all the proper 
reservations — and still retaining a surplus profit out of the 
years work of i5223,cxx). What other Bank has done the same.'' 

William B. Lewis to Biddle 

{Confidential) Washington 3 May 1830 

My D. Sir, 

I rec*^. yours of the 27 ultimo the day previous to 
Judge Overtons departure, and consulted him with regard 
to the appointment of suitable persons to fill the places 
of those directors of your Nashville Board as will have shortly 
to retire. We found considerable difficulty in making proper 
selections, but have agreed to recommend the following 
named gentlemen. 

Thomas Crutcher 

Alexander Porter 

Francis B Fogg, or E. H. Foster 

Bernard Vanlier 

Joseph Vaulx. 



98 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

The first named gentleman is one of the earliest settlers 
in the Country — a man of great moral worth, and is at this 
time and has been for nearly thirty years, one of the Treas- 
urers of Tennessee. You cannot, I should think, do better 
than to appoint him. M^ Porter was a member of the Nash- 
ville Board when it was first organized — an Irishman by 
birth, but has been a resident of the State upwords of thirty 
years and has lived, I should think, 25 years in Nashville — 
a man of good moral character, of wealth, and needs none 
of your money. I have served with him and know he makes 
a good and safe director. Fogg and Foster are partners in 
law, both men of business and of high standing — Foster 
was a member of your first Board. M*^ Vanlier is concerned 
in some of the iron works of this State — he is a native of 
Penn^. — a man of good moral character, well off, safe 
and judicious — at least this was his character when 1 left 
Nashville, and I have no reason to believ it has undergone 
any change. Mr. Vaulx must be known to you as he has 
served two years as a director. He is a safe judicious man — 
has married into an influential connection, and is doing a good 
business as a merchant. When he was first appointed some ob- 
jection was made to him on account of his age; but as he has 
once been a member of the Board, and is several years older 
than he was, I presume no objection could now be made to 
him on that account. 

I am of opinion that Judge Overton himself would serve 
if appointed, tho' 1 am not authorised to say so, never having 
heard him speak upon the subject. If it would not be incon- 
venient for him to attend, living 5 or 6 miles from town, it 
would be good policy to appoint him; he is a brother-in-law 
of Judge White of the Senate, and a particular friend of the 



7b JVilliam B. Lewis 99 

President. If his living in the Country should be an ob- 
jection, I would advise you to put him in the place of 
Harding next Year, who also lives in the Country. Two of 
the Directors who go out this year should be returned to 
the Board as early as the rule, which governs such cases, 
will admit of. I mean Campbell and Farqueharsen, both of 
whom make good directors — particularly the latter. With- 
out wishing to disparage others I verily believe that M^ 
Farqueharsen is the very best director you have in your 
Board. 

The President is well, and desires me to present his respects 
to you. 

BiDDLE TO William B. Lewis Esq 

{Private) Philada. May 8. 1830 

My Dear Sir. 

I thank you very much for your favor of the 3d: inst. 
with the list of names which I must prize, because 1 know 
that it is dictated by friendly feelings towards the Bank. As 
soon as I receive the nomination from Nashville I shall not 
fail to consult you about it. 

Since you left us, I have thought very anxiously about a 
subject which I mentioned to you, I mean the present dis- 
position of the President towards the Bank. Since his opinions 
were stated in the Message, he has had an opportunity of 
examing more attentively the effects & operations of the 
Institution, of witnessing its utility to the finances of the 
Government, & of knowing the views of sound & practical 
men from every part of the Country. He is also, I trust, satis- 
fied that the powers of the Bank have not been abused for 
political purposes, & that towards him & his administration, 



886355 



loo Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

the Bank has acted frankly, fairly & cordially. It would be 
affectation in me not to say that those who conduct the 
Bank were exceedingly hurt & pained by the opinion ex- 
pressed by the President, that all their efforts to restore the 
Currency had failed. Yet, in the midst of their regrets, they 
knew too well their duties to suffer themselves to give the 
slightest political bias to the Bank, to be driven or tempted 
into opposition, or to abate in the slightest degree their zeal 
for the public service. The President has few more decided 
personal or political friends than many of those who are 
concerned in the administration of the Bank. To them, as 
well as to a large body of citizens, it would be exceedingly 
gratifying to know the feelings of the President towards the 
Bank at the present moment, because some of his injudicious 
friends & many of his opponents seek to make an impression 
that such Is his rooted dislike to the Institution, that he would 
refuse his sanction to a Continuance of the Bank, were the 
Charter renewed by both Houses of Congress. The first class 
say this because they dislike the Bank — the second because 
they dislike the President; but I hope that neither the Presi- 
dent nor the Bank will allow themselves to misunderstand 
each other, or to be estranged from each other, by the ma- 
noeuvres or the indiscretions of their respective friends or 
enemies. Their true attitude is that of mutual Independence 
& mutual respect, & as far as I am concerned that attitude 
shall be fairly maintained. 

Whenever you have any thing gratifying on that sub- 
ject which you can with perfect propriety communicate, 
I shall be obliged by hearing it, & in the mean time, remain 
as always 



From Charles August Davis i o i 

Charles August Davis ^ to Biddle 

N. York 21 My 1830 
My D^ Sir 

... I think it probable I may have mention'd to you 
that it was believ'd here by many that M"" Van Buren had 
some agency in it, and the reasons assign'd if not true are 
at least curious. This — he look'd upon the U.S. B. as a mass 
of power which might be employ'd to bear on any point or ag'' 
any point with no inconsiderable force and if a disposition 
sh'd exist thus in directing its influence politically he as a 
political man (& having had no agency either in its creation 
or thro' its changes & trials) naturally concluded it w^. be 
less likely to oppose old friends than to adopt new ones or 
strangers. Hence it was natural that he sh'd not view it with 
a favorable political eye — it might be perfectly harmless, or 
it might not — and political men are not always satisfied 
with uncertainties. Like the old Gun it was safer out of reach 
& harms way for tho it was said to have neither flint or pow- 
der in it still it might go off. At this particular period the 
Safety fuTid system appear'd — and in theory had no doubt 
an honest, able aspect — it was so far adopted by M'' Van 
Beuren then Gov^ of the State, ^ as to have been more easily 

' One of the directors of the State Bank of New York. Wilson, op. cit., vol. 
Ill, p. 347. 

^ Van Buren's career as Governor of New York was very brief. He was in- 
augurated January i, 1829, but resigned March 12, to go into the Cabinet. "His 
inaugural message is said by Hammond to have been the best executive message 
ever communicated to the legislature." In this address he outlined the "safety 
fund" system which had been communicated to him by Joshua Forman. "Under 
this system all the Banks of the State, whatever their condition, were to contribute 
to a fund to be administered under state supervision, the fund to be a security for 
all dishonored bank notes. To this extent all the Banks were to insure or indorse 
the circulation of each bank, thus saving the scandal and loss arising from the oc- 



I02 



Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



made his almost exclusively — if successful — than it is now 
found to shake it from him — that it is suspected of being 
inapplicable in practice. Had it prov'd successful and met 
with the general favor it was suppos'd to merit, "Van Buren 
Safety fund" w'^. have been as clearly identified & recogniz'd 
as "Clinton & Canal." And if approv'd in one State w'^. most 
likely have become general — here then was a substitute at 
hand and "a safe channel for all Gov^ purposes" sh'd the 
U.S. Bank be dispens'd with — but it is likely to prove other- 
wise — and turns out among the moves of ill luck which 
sometimes are made by the most wise and prudent. These 
are among the leading reasons advanced by the knowing 
ones here touching M*" Van Buren and his agency in the 
Message, and if groundless, they are at least curious as 1 
before stated. 

I have a very high opinion ^ of M'' V. Buren. I believe him 
a safe and segacious man, or any way he has the reputation of 
being "mysterious" — "dark" and "designing"; but un- 
less I am entirely mistaken in my observations of him per- 
sonally, I should say this impression is created for him more by 
a negative than a positive course of conduct politically, or 
rather by a peculiar and unusual system of Caution — few 
men say less — no man writes less on the passing political 

casional failure of Banks to redeem their notes, and making every Bank watchful 
of its associates. In compelling the Banks to submit to some general scheme the 
representatives of the people would, indeed, he said, enter into 'conflict with the 
claims of the great moneyed interests of the country; but what political exhibition 
so truly gratifying as the return to his constituents of the faithful public serv- 
ant after having turned away every approach and put far from him every sinister 
consideration.'" Shephard, Edward M., Martin Van Buren (Boston, 1891), pp. 
168-170. 

^ Biddle likewise held Van Buren in high regard and often reiterated his be- 
lief that the latter was "neither the instigator nor the adviser of the President's 
remarks." 



From William B. Lewis 103 

occurrences — and whilst other great men are wasting their 
powers & puzzHng their wits to explain away or smoothen 
down the sharp corner of some printed or written opinions 
& assertions which unfortunately may have outlived the oc- 
casion and which may not harmonize with the changes of 
public sentiment — He is fresh & free from all charges ex- 
cept the important one which friends as well as enemies are 
ready to lay at his door — the charge of having effected 
all these changes in public sentiment — no body can say 
how, when or where. He neither asserts or contradicts — 
but if he has in reality no hand in thus acquiring political 
power few men know better how to keep what comes in 
possession. 

It is thro' periods of political excitement that his system 
is more likely to succeed than in "calm successions," or in 
other words his capital accumulates faster at such periods, 
and if I were a politician or party man I'd "back him" for a 
leader of my party "ag*. the field": but being neither I only 
indulge the liberty of sketching occasionally an outline 
roughly as in this instance of those who direct public affairs, 
aware at the same time that I can more correctly sketch the 
range of a market for Iron, Sugar or Coffee. I am in great 
truth & with high esteem 

William B. Lewis to Biddle 

{Confidential) Washington 25 May 1830 

D. Sir, 

. . . Before closing this letter permit me to say one 
word in reference to a subject mentioned in your last letter 
to me — I mean the information you rec'^. of the President's 
having declared that if Congress should pass a law renewing 



I04 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

the Charter of the U.S. Bank he would put his veto on it. 
I told you in Phil^. when you first mentioned the thing to 
me, that there must be some mistake, because the report was 
at variance with what / had heard him say upon the subject. 
In conversing with him a few days ago upon the subject he 
still entertained the opinion that a National Bank might be 
established that would be preferable to the present U.S. Bank ; 
but that, if Congress thought differently, and it was deemed 
necessary to have such a Bank as the present, with certain 
modifications he should not object to it. If the President finds 
that his scheme is not likely to take, I do not believe he will 
be opposed, altogether, to the present Bank. In haste I am 

RoswELL L. Colt to Biddle 

10 June (1830).? 
Dear Biddle 

Soon after the Presidents first message In which the 
subject of the Bank was mentioned Mr Howard had a conver- 
sation with Mr Van Beuren ^ in which he told the Secretary 
that that part of the message refer y to the Bank — had caused 
great surprise. Mr. V. B. answered he knew nothing of it, that 
he had not been consulted on the subject, and disapproaved 
of that part of the message & that he was not hostile to the 
Bank. You recollect I wrote you at the time I was satisfied 
Mr V. B. was the author of those obnoxious paragraphs, & 
Mr Poinsett says he is sure that V. B. is the man who has 
caused us all our trouble. . . . 

1 Van Buren seems to have tried hard to keep aloof from an open attack on 
the Bank. The Bank men always claimed he was the cause of their trouble; but 
Professor Bassett, in his Lije of Jackson (cf. chap. 29), shows that Van Buren was 
not anxious to be implicated in the various moves against the institution. 



From Henry Clay 105 



Henry Clay to Biddle 

Ashland 14 th. June 1830 
Dear Sir 

. . . Unless I am deceived by information, received 
from one of the most intelligent Citizens of Virginia, the 
plan was laid at Richmond during a visit made to that place 
by the Secy, of State last autumn, to make the destruction 
of the Bank the basis of the next Presidential Election. The 
message of the President, and other indications, are the sup- 
posed consequences of that plan.^ 

^ This letter is in Clay's handwriting and is highly significant. It is a well- 
known fact that Jackson was strongly advised by many of his friends not to in- 
troduce the Bank question in his message of 1829. On October 22, 1829, Felix 
Grundy wrote to Jackson outlining the main features of a National Bank and con- 
cluded as follows: " I hope to be in Washington a week or ten days before Congress 
convenes — and will lose no time before I see you. I intend to set out for Richmond 
on the 25th instant to see the Virginia Convention in session thence to the city." 
On November 27, 1829, Ingham wrote to Jackson advising against the Bank 
attack; on December 17, 1829, Benton sent Jackson a copy of Randolph's idea of 
a National Bank; while on the same day the Attorney-General likewise opposed 
introducing the question. (Cf. Jackson MSS. in Library of Congress.) Thus, with 
the single exception of Benton the Jackson MSS. show that all the friends of the 
President cautioned Jackson on the expediency of raising the issue. The Van Buren 
MSS. contain no mention of the Bank message. 

Moreover, it is established that Van Buren was opposed to interfering in the 
struggle. Cf. Bassett, Li^e of Jackson, vol. 11, pp. 631, 640, 740. 

Yet Professor Ambler, in his Life of Thomas Ritchie, p. 131, shows that Van 
Buren visited Richmond about this period. Therefore the question arises, could 
the Southern politicians have induced or suggested to Van Buren the idea of an 
attack on the Bank, holding out to the latter the hope of the next Presidential elec- 
tion, while their main idea was to gain time for their own propaganda? It was in 
the Virginia Convention of 1829 that the Calhoun doctrine of defending slavery was 
first enunciated. Therefore the Calhounites, by projecting the Bank and raising 
a hue and cry, might further their own scheme. However, it was spoiled by Jack- 
son crushing nullification in 1830. Seeing they had failed in this attempt, they im- 
mediately came out clearly for the Bank. Thus, in the view of these late histori- 
cal events Clay's letter suggests many interesting points, for if this suggestion is 
sound the Bank controversy shifts from Washington to Richmond. 



io6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



JOSIAH NiCHOL TO BiDDLE 

Office Bank United States 
Nashville 20^''. July 1830 

(reed Aug\ 2, 1830) 
Dear Sir 

Yours of the 22°^ ultimo is duly received, and the re- 
quest therein contained attended to as far as yet in my power, 
the President of the United States arrived in Town last Tues- 
day. I done myself the pleasure of waiting on him, as an old 
friend, and at the request of a number of our most respectable 
citizens made him a tender of apartments in my house during 
his Stay in Town, which he accepted, and left us on Thursday 
last for the Hermitage; during his Stay at my house I had 
frequent opportunities, and did not neglect the subject of 
your letter. I enforced every argument that I could make bear 
on the subject, or that would be of any service in removing 
his prejudice. I brought to his view the improvement of our 
Town and Country since the establishment of this office, and 
Contrasted the year of 1826 with the present year of 1830. 
on the Subject of exchange, in the former year We generally 
paid a premium on Bills drawn on any of the Eastern cities 
of from 9 to 12 per cent; now 1830, We can obtain Checks, 
payable at one day after sight at any place where the United 
States Bank have a Branch at a premium of one half to one 
per cent — which is little more than pays postage, he appears 
to be well satisfied with the facilities that the Bank have 
given to Government and individuals, in transferring their 
funds from One point to another, and acknowledges that a 
Bank such as the present only can do so. he appears to be 
genrally pleased with the Management of the United States 



To yosiah Nichol 107 

and Branches — and particularly so with this office. I have 
taken considerable pains and gave him all the Information I 
consistently could on Banking Subjects — and belive have 
convinced him that the Present Bank and Branches could 
not be dispenced with without Manifest injury to the Coun- 
try and particularly so to this Western Country, as no other 
Currency could be Substituted. On the subject of his favour- 
ite plan 1 touched lightly, but let him know that I thought 
it would be more dangerous to Our liberties than than the 
U S. Bank, the Only objection he appears to have to the pres- 
ent Bank is that a great part of the Stock is held by For- 
eigners — consequently the interest Is taken from the Coun- 
try, he is well satisfied that Politicks have no influence in 
Bank or In the Choice of Directors, and I am well convinced 
that he will not Interfer with Congress on the Subject of re- 
newing the Charter of the Bank. Altho on this subject he 
keeps his opinion to himself he speaks of You in the most 
exalted terms and says there is No Gentleman that can be 
fouiid would manage the Bank better or do the Bank & 
Country More Justice. I am Sir very respectfully your 

BiDDLE TO JOSIAH NiCHOL EsQ. 

(confidential) Philada. Augt: 3. 1830. 

Dear Sir. 

Since writing to you this morning it has occurred to 
me that you may have it in your power to do a great service to 
the Bank as well as to Gen' : Jackson. No man can now fail to 
perceive that the remarks on the Bank in the President's Mes- 
sage were unfortunate, & have tended to make many sober 
men uneasy about the stability of our finances & the sound- 
ness of our currency. As respects the Bank, it has gained 



I o 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

friends by the reports In Congress & by the general discussion 
of Its affairs throughout the Country, so that at present I 
consider the Bank decidedly popular with the great mass of 
the Community. As a proof of It we have now before us no 
less than ten applications for branches — one In New York, 
one In Ohio, one In Virginia, two In South Carolina, one In 
Florida, one In Indiana, & I believe that there Is a decided 
majority In both houses of Congress favorable to it. 

Under these circumstances the opposition to the President 
will naturally endeavor to turn the Bank question against 
him — to represent him & his friends as unfriendly to sound 
currency. 

In this the Bank will give of course no assistance. It means 
to be as It has been perfectly neutral & unpartial — minding 
Its own business & not medling with other people's & no- 
thing shall force it or seduce it from its strict line of duty. 
But It is worthy of great consideration for Genl : Jackson & 
his friends whether It would not be right for them to remove 
the Impression of his & their hostility to the Bank. I do not 
believe that Genl : Jackson or his particular friends are hostile 
to the Bank. He expressed his doubts & his belief about it. I 
am sure he was wrong, but I am equally sure that he was per- 
fectly honest, & if I do not much mistake his character he will 
If he thinks he has not done justice to the Bank In the first 
instance, be ready to do It ample justice when on more re- 
flection & examination he becomes satisfied that he can do 
so. This he will have a fine opportunity of doing & at the same 
time of disarming his political antagonists of what they may 
make a powerful weapon at the next meeting of Congress. 
Genl: Jackson does not perhaps know (for persons In high 
stations do not always hear the whole truth) that the part 



To yosiah Nichol 109 

of his Message which relates to the Bank has been a source 
of regret to many of his most attached friends & to most if 
not all the political associates around him. He has now a 
fair ^ opportunity of converting that right into pleasure & 
triumph. 

In his next message he will be able to state that since his 
last message nearly lo millions of principal of the public 
Debt were paid off in January & July. In his last message 
he was kind enough to speak with approbation of the agency 
of the Bank in making that payment without the least in- 
convenience to the Country. Now, what I think his friends 
desire is that he should renew the expression of that approba- 
tion — to the Bank it would perhaps be an act of justice — ■ 
and it would be an act both of justice & policy to himself & 
his friends by correcting an opinion that has gone abroad 
that he & they are unfriendly to the Institution. He could say 
this without looking to the past or the future — without 
committing himself or his friends — & the friends of the Bank 
would be gratified by such an evidence that his feelings were 
kindly towards the institution. This is a very simple & 
easy thing to do — & yet I believe it would be very useful. 
Now how shall it be brought about .^ I have an idea that if 
any body can do it you can, & if Judge Overton ^ were dis- 
posed to aid he could be very useful. I submit the matter to 
your judgment to do what you may think right. I suggest it 
to you as a friend of Genl : Jackson & a friend of the Bank — 
believing that It would be useful to both — but as I have 
made it a law not to Interfere in political matters In case 

1 In the manuscript the word "fine" is inserted in pencil. 

* A land lawyer. Placed on Supreme Court Bench as successor to Andrew 
Jackson. \\'oodbridge, J. (editor), History of Nashville (Nashville, 1890), p. 516. 



no Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

you should think the suggestion worth acting upon, you will 
have the goodness to do it without reference to me. 

Henry Clay to Biddle 

{confidential) Ashland nth. Sept. 1830 

Dear Sir 

Major Tilford having mentioned to me that you 
were considering whether it was proper to apply, at the ensu- 
ing Session of Congress, for a renewal of the charter of the 
B.U.S. and that you entertained some doubts on the subject, 
I had a conversation with him and Mr. Harper,^ which I in- 
formed them that they were at liberty to communicate to 
you. I added that, perhaps, I might address a letter to you on 
the same matter. A leisure hour allows me to fulfill that in- 
tention. 

It may be assumed, as indisputable, that the renewal of 
the charter can never take place, as the Constitution now 
stands, against the opinion and wishes of the President of the 
U.S. for the time being. A bill, which should be rejected by 
him for that purpose, could never be subsequently passed 
by the constitutional majority. There would always be found 
a sufficient number to defeat such a bill, after its return with 
the President' objection, among those who are opposed to 
the Bank on constitutional grounds, those who, without be- 
ing influenced by constitutional considerations, might be op- 
posed to it upon the score of expediency, and those who would 
be operated upon by the influence of the Executive. 

I think it may even be assumed that a bill to renew the 
Charter cannot be carried through Congress, at any time, 
with a neutral executive. To ensure its passage, the Presidents 

* Cashier of the Branch at Lexington. 



From Henry Clay 



III 



opinions and those of at least a majority of his Cabinet must 
be known to be in favor of the renewal. 

President Jackson, if I understand the paragraph of his 
message at the opening of the last Session of Congress, relat- 
ing to the Bank, is opposed to it upon Constitutional objec- 
tions. Other sources of information corroborate that fact. If 
he should act upon that opinion, and reject a bill, presented 
for his aprobation, it would be impossible to get it through 
Congress at the next Session against the Veto. 

That a strong party, headed by Mr. V. Buren, some Vir- 
ginia politicians and the Richmond Enquirer, intend, if prac- 
ticable to make the Bank question the basis of the next Pres- 
idential election, I have, I believe, heretofore informed you. 
I now entertain no doubt of that purpose. I have seen many 
evidences of It. The Editors of certain papers have received 
their orders to that effect, and embrace every occasion to act 
in conformity with them. This fact cannot have escaped your 
observation.^ "^ 

If you apply at the next Session of Congress, you will play 
into the hands of that party. They will most probably, In the 
event of such application, postpone the question, until an- 
other Congress Is elected. They will urge the long time that 
the Charter has yet to run; that therefore there Is no necessity 
to act at the next Session on the measure; and that public 
sentiment ought to be allowed to develope itself &c. These 
and other considerations will Induce Congress, always dis- 
posed to procrastinate, to put off the question. In the mean 
time, the public press will be put in motion, every prejudice 
excited and appeals made to every passion. The question will 

^ This was quite true, for by this date the Washington Globe and the other 
Jackson prints were beginning their strenuous attacks on the Bank. 



1 1 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Incorporate itself with all our elections, and especially with 
that as to which there is so great a desire that it should be in- 
corporated. It will be difficult, when Congress comes finally to 
decide the question, to obtain a majority against the accu- 
mulation of topics of opposition. 

But suppose, at the next Session, on the contingency of 
your application for a renewal of the Charter, instead of post- 
poning. Congress was to pass a bill for that object, and it 
should be presented to the President, what would he do with 
it? If, as I suppose, he would reject it, the question would 
be immediately, in consequence, referred to the people, and 
would inevitably mix itself with all our elections. It would 
probably become, after the next Session, and up to the time 
of the next Presidential election, the controlling question in 
American politics. The friends of the Bank would have to 
argue the question before the public against the official act of 
the President, and against the weight of his popularity. 

You would say what ought the Corporation to do? I stated 
to the above gentleman that, in my opinion, unless you had 
a satisfactory assurance that your application at the next 
Session would be successful, you had better not make it. If, 
contrary to my impressions, you could receive such an assur- 
ance from both departments of the Government, who would 
have to act on the case, that would present a different state 
of the question, and would justify the presentation of your 
petition. 

If not made at the next Session, when should it be made ? 
I think the Session immediately after the next Presidential 
election would be the most proper time. Then every thing will 
be fresh; the succeeding P. election will be too remote to be 
shaping measure in reference to it; and there will be a disposi- 



From Henry Clay 113 

tion to afford the new administration the facilities in our fiscal 
affairs which the B. of the U.S. perhaps alone can render. 
But suppose Gen' Jackson should be again elected? If that 
should be the case, he will have probably less disposition than 
he now has to avail himself of any prejudices against the 
Bank. He will then have also less influence; for it may be 
loosely asserted, at least as a general rule, that the President 
will have less popularity in his second than in his first term. 
And that I believe would emphatically be the fate of the pres- 
ent President. At all events, you will be in a better condition 
by abstaining from applying to renew the charter during his 
first term, than you would be in, if you were to make the ap- 
plication and it should be rejected. Upon the supposition of 
such a rejection, and that the question should be afterwards 
blended with the Presidential contest, and Gen^ Jackson 
should be elected, his re-election would amount to something 
like a popular ratification of the previous rejection of the 
renewal of the charter of the Bank. Indeed, if there be an 
union of the Presidents negative of the Bank bill with the 
next P. election, and he should be reelected, would it not be 
regarded as decisive against any Bank of the U.S. hereafter.^ 

My opinion, upon the whole, then is, that it would be un- 
wise to go to Congress without something like a positive assur- 
ance of success at the next Session; and that the Corporation, 
without displaying any solicitude in regard to the continua- 
tion of its charter, had better preserve, in the able and faith- 
ful administration of its affairs, which it has of late years 
manifested, and go to Congress at the first moments of calm 
which shall succeed the approaching Presidential storm. 

I hope I need say nothing, by way of apology, to satisfy 
you of the friendly feelings which have prompted this letter; 



114 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

nor to Impress you with the propriety of receiving it in the 
confidence with which it is written. I add assurances of the 
constant and cordial regard of 

TO Colonel Hunter ^ 

Washington 30 h. Octr 1830 
My Dear Sir 

. . . Your institution is destined however to encounter 
a Severe Struggle, for the renewal of its Charter. I see In 
various quarters of the Union evidences of determination to 
resist It, and it is not the least striking of these, that M"" Clay 
— who we all know is latltudinarian enough to have no con- 
stitutional scruples on this, or on any other Subject — is un- 
willing to Commit himself upon this measure — the inference 
is obvious. He doubts the result of the application for the new 
charter, and is unwilling to hazard his popularity by becom- 
ing its advocate. But for the course pursued by South Caro- 
lina, M' Calhoun, & M' M'Duffie might have rendered serv- 
ice, as it is — I Know not how far they will have the power. 

BiDDLE TO William B. Lewis Esq. 

PhIK Oct^ 31^^ 1830 
My dear Sir 

I have been prevented by other occupations from say- 
ing to you that on examining the Louisville business, I found 
I could not consistently adopt your suggestion. It seems that 
out of 9 there are 4 gentlemen friendly to the administration. 
This is accidental, but I am glad of it, for the fact shows that 
there was no principle of exclusion — that the business men 

1 Cashier of the Branch of the Bank of the United States at Nashville. Col- 
lector of the Port in 1843. American Almanac, 1843, p. 92. 



To Henry Clay 115 

were taken indiscriminately from all parties & the division 
is sufficient to prevent any political partiality on either side, 
which, however, I believe neither side feels nor exercises. To 
introduce new members — members so well qualified as those 
now there — for the purpose of making any political balance, 
would be wrong in itself & would expose us to the very im- 
putation we wish to avoid of looking to party considerations. 
On the whole, therefore, I thought it better to let the business 
considerations prevail over politics. The only regret I feel is, 
that I had it not in my power to agree to what might per- 
haps have gratified you. 

BiDDLE TO Henry Clay Esqr 

Philad^ Nov^ 3^<^ 1830 
My dear Sir 

I have purposely delayed answering your favor of the 
11*^ of Sepf until I could speak with some degree of confi- 
dence as to the course which will be adopted in reference to the 
subject of it. In the mean time I have read repeatedly and 
with renewed interest all your remarks, proceeding as I know 
they do from one who with ample materials of information 
& great sagacity in employing them gives the result of his 
reflections with a sincere desire to serve the institution. For 
this in any event you will accept my grateful thanks. 

After keeping the subject long under advisement in order 
to observe the latest development of facts, I am now satis- 
fied, that it would be inexpedient to apply at present for the 
renewal of the charter. My belief is from all I have seen & 
read & heard, that there is at this moment a majority of both 
Houses of Congress favourable to a renewal, and moreover 
that the President would not reject the bill. The tempta- 



1 1 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

tion is therefore great to take advantage of a propitious state 
of feelings like this. But then the Hazard is not to be disguised. 
A great mass of those who if they were obliged to vote at 
all would vote favourably will prefer not voting if it can be 
avoided, and the dread of responsibility, the love of postpon- 
ment & the vis-inertia inherent in all legislative bodies would 
combine to put off the question during the approaching 
short session. To pass both houses & be rejected by the Presi- 
dent, to be rejected in either house, to be postponed in either 
house, to be brought forward in any shape and not be finally 
and favorably acted upon are degrees of evil — but the mild- 
est of them a great evil, much to be deplored & to be avoided 
if possible. My impression then is that nothing but a cer- 
tainty of success should induce an application now. To this 
I am the more inclined because time is operating in favor of 
the Bank, by removing prejudices, and diffusing a general 
conviction of its utility. 

Having made up my mind on the subject, I am gratified 
that this, which is the first expression I have made of this 
opinion, should be communicated to one whose views have so 
largely influenced my own. It will always afford me great 
pleasure to receive the benefit of your further suggestions on 
this or any other subject, being with great respect and regard^ 

Joseph Hemphill to BmoLE 

Washington Deer — 9 — 1830 
Dear Sir 

After receiving the Message ^ of the President, M^ 
M^Dufly & myself are of the opinion, that it is the true inter- 

' On the same day Biddle wrote to Hunter presenting the identical arguments. 
2 Richardson, op. cit., vol. ll, pp. 528, 529. 



From Robert Smith 



117 



est of the Bank of the United States to apply for the renewal 
of its charter at the Present Session — the reasons for apply- 
ing now will be fair & such as must be approved of. If noth- 
ing had been said In the Message, perhaps the best policy 
would have been to lay quiet at the present, but now the 
public mind will be uncertain as to the fate of the Bank; Sac- 
rafices may be made by the time & the currency of the Coun- 
try effected; it is of importance that this question should be 
settled as early as possible; as it has been the second time 
introduced by the President, the bringing of It can do no harm 
& if it fails It can be renewed before the next Congress. . . . 
If I was with you I could explain more fully why the appli- 
cation should be now made. 

Joseph Hemphill to Biddle 

Dec'. 9- 1830 Washington 
Dear Sir 

At present I think it had better not be mentioned out 
of the board that there is any Intention to make an applica- 
tion for a re-charter this Session. This is for yourself only. 

Robert Smith to Biddle 

Confidential Washington Dec^ 13, 1830 

Dear Sir 

I gathered from a conversation with Major Lewis, of 
the President's family, that altho' the President is decidedly 
in favor of a Bank such as he recommended to Congress, yet 
if a bill were to pass both houses, renewing the charter of 
the Bank U States with certain modifications, the President 
would not with hold his approval. What these modifications 
were, I could not distinctly understand; but I beUeve that 



1 1 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

the principal one was to take from the Bank the right of es- 
tablishing branches in the states, unless with the consent of 
the states, & it was intimated that a provision of the kind 
would really be beneficial to the Bank, in as much as our 
career if the jealousy with which the States regard the Bank 
would be removed, & it was not doubted but that sooner 
or later every state would solicit the establishment of a 
Branch. It was also intimated that the holding of real estate 
by the bank was very objectionable. The right to do so how- 
ever, is so essential to the safety of the Bank, that it cannot 
be perceived how the relinquishment of it can be yielded. . . . 

BmDLE TO Joseph Hemphill 

Philad. Dec. 14. 1830 
My dear Sir, 

I take the earliest opportunity which my occupations 
have permitted to consult you on the subject of attempting 
the renewal of the Charter during the present session of 
Congress. 

Until the arrival of the President's message my impressions 
were these. I believed that there was a decided majority of 
both houses of Congress who, if they had been obliged to vote 
at all, would have voted for the renewal. But not being 
obliged to vote, they would avoid voting. Many would say 
that the question was premature, that they ought not to fore- 
stal the judgment of their successors, that It was a short 
session — in short the indifferent & the timid would com- 
bine with the opponents of the Bank to postpone the ques- 
tion. Once brought forward & postponed. It would of course 
be blended up with the elections, & become one of those po- 
litical matters judged exclusively by party considerations. 



To yoseph Hemphill 1 1 9 

On the other hand if it passed through both Houses, & was 
negatived by the Pres'., from that time forward it would 
become a question between the Bank & him, & if he were 
reelected, he would construe it as a decision by the nation 
against the Bank, & act accordingly. There was also not un- 
mingled with these views the hope that as the President had 
mentioned the subject to Congress he would have left it to 
them, & that time & experience would have made him more 
wise & less pertinacious. Such seemed the state of the case 
in November. 

It is certainly much altered now. 

The President has himself again thrust it before Congress, 
& seems determined to make it an electioneering topic. By 
inviting the State Gov*^ to strengthen themselves by usurp- 
ing the whole circulating medium of the country, he will 
probably excite them to instruct their delegations in Con- 
gress to oppose the charter, & it is to be presumed that in 
no event will he sanction a bill for the re-charter. . . . 

I believe it greatly for the interest of the country to settle 
this question during the present session. My doubt is whether 
it would be expedient in reference to the ultimate settlement 
of that question for the Bank to ask for a renewal. But the 
benefit of settling it may possibly be obtained without the risk 
of prejudicing the Bank in case of failure by another course 
which is this. 

The Committee of Ways & Means ^ have now the Presi- 
dent's Message before them. If that Comm^. were to say that 
this is a question which must not be left in its present posi- 
tion, that all the great Interests of the country are hazarded 
by this suspense, & altho' they did not intend to stir it, yet 

* McDuffie was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. 



I20 



Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



now that It has been agitated it ought to be put to rest — if 
they would say this, the way would be open. If the Comm^. 
were to say to the Bank whether it would take at once the re- 
newal & on what terms, we should answer by return of mail 
in a manner no doubt satisfactory, & the Comm^. might 
then report a bill of a single section continuing the Charter 
for twenty years after the expiration of its present charter on 
the payment of the stipulated bonus. In this way the rechar- 
ter would present itself, not so much in the light of an appli- 
cation by individuals, but as a financial measure, introduced 
by the financial organ of the House. If it succeeded — well. 
If it failed, the Bank might hereafter come forward with 
its proposal without prejudice of its having been once de- 
feated. ... 

John Norvall ^ to Biddle 

Philadelphia, Dec. i6, 1830. 
Dear Sir, 

. . . My opinion, if it be worth anything to you, is, 
that the bank ought forthwith to make application for the 
renewal of its charter. If a bill for the purpose 'should be 
passed. General Jackson will be more afraid to put his veto 
to it than after his re-election. If he should negative such a 
bill, the fact will go far toward preventing his re-election. 
Besides, the present congress is probably more favorable than 
the next will be to the bank. In any event, it appears to me 
to be the Interest of the stockholders and officers to bring the 
matter at once to issue. . . . 

1 Editor of Anti-Federalist paper in Philadelphia, 1816-1832. Later moved 
to Michigan and was Senator from that State, 1 837-1 841. Cf. sketch of life written 
by his son in Michigan Pioneer Collections, vol. iii, pp. 140-147; also Bingham, 
Stephen D., Early History oj Michigan (Lansing, 1888), pp. 496, 497. 



From jfohn Norvall 



121 



John Norvall to Biddle 

Philadelphia, Dec. 19, 1830 
Dear Sir, 

I am going on with the examination of the list of mem- 
bers, with a view to ascertain who are for, and who are 
against, the renewal of your bank charter. Mr Letcher,^ of 
Kentucky, tells me that there are 74 opposition members, 
who, he is satisfied, will vote in solid phalanx for the bank. 
At least 22 of the 26 members from Pennsylvania will vote for 
it. They, added to the 74 will make 96. Nearly all the South 
Carolina, a portion of Virginia and North Carolina members, 
will vote for it; and scattering Jackson votes in all the other 
states will be obtained for the bank. Upon the most moderate 
calculation, 130 votes may be considered as certain. That 
number will leave, in the house, a minority of 84. In the sen- 
ate, of 48 votes, 22 opposition members may be set down 
as certain for the bank. General Barnard ^ of our state, 
and Mr. Livingston ^ of Louisiana, General Hayne ^ and 
Judge Smith ^ of South Carolina, and Mr. Tazewall ^ of Vir- 
ginia, Jackson members, are for it. These make 27, leaving 
a minority of 21. There is also General Smith of Maryland, 
making 28, and leaving a minority of 20, with the probability 
of two or three more Jackson votes. The preceding statement 
is the most unfavorable in the project congress for the 
bank. . . . 

* Representative from Kentucky. * Senator from Pennsylvania. 
' Senator from Louisiana. Later Secretary of State, 1831-1833. 

* Representative from South Carolina. 

^ Senator from South Carolina. ^ Senator from Virginia [Tazewell]. 



122 



Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



BiDDLE TO Mr. Robinson Esq. 

{private) Philad* Dec. 20-1830 

Dear Sir 

... In respect to Gen^ Jackson & Mr Van Buren I 
have not the slightest fear of either of them, or both of them. 
Our country-men are not naturally disposed to cut their own 
throats to please any body, & I have so perfect a reliance 
on the spirit & sense of the nation, that I think we can de- 
fend the institution from much stronger enemies than they 
are. In doing this we must endeavour to reach the under- 
standings of our fellow citizens by the diffusion of correct 
views of a subject which is much understood. You will receive 
herewith a copy of condensed analysis of Mr Gallatin's 
article on Banks, so far as it relates to the B.U.S. . . . 

RoswELL L. Colt to Biddle 

Bal. 29 Jany 1831 
Dear Biddle 

. . . Tis said that Van Buren & Calhoun have kissed 
& made up their dispute — it is a fact that Calhoun has 
dined with M' Van Buren — and now the Secretarys party 
are crowing under the idea, that Calhoun is courting the 
favor & forbearance of Mr V B — at which it is Said that M"^ 
C. is not a little vexed. If Jackson determines to run again 
for the Presidency, & Calhoun does the Same, as he says he 
will, then Van B. & his party will denounce Calhoun & throw 
him off as they have Duff Green. The Clay party are trying 
to get Calhoun to separate himself from Jackson — they say 
that heretofore he was sound on the leading questions, U.S. 
Judiciary, Bank U States, Tariff & internal improvements, 



71? TVilliam B. Lawrence 1 2 3 

and that all he has to do is find some fit & proper occasion to 
come out & declare that his views on these important subjects 
are the same he had formerly entertained — this the Clay 
party tell him. Clay Is our first Choice — You are Second, 
but that we cannot carry our party for You if You are against 
the Judiciary, the Currency, the finding employment at 
home for our surplus Labour, or new avenues through which 
to distribute the product of that Labour — and it is hoped 
he will listen. I fear not. 

BiDDLE TO William B. Lawrence, Esq. 

PhiK Feby 8. 1831 
Dear Sir, 

. . . What I can do & will do Is this. It is obvious that 
a great efi"ort will be made to array the influence of the Execu- 
tive & all his party against the Bank. It is not less evident 
that our most effectual resistance is the dissemination of 
useful knowledge among the people, and accordingly I am 
endeavoring to convey to all classes real & positive informa- 
tion in regard to the working of the institution & its bene- 
ficial influence on the prosperity of the nation. To do this 
newspapers must be used, not for their influence, but merely 
as channels of communication with the people. If you think 
the one in question a useful vehicle of information I will em- 
ploy it — and in this way. 

I have many articles about the Bank — articles of interest 
to a general reader & which would occupy no more space 
than would be necessarily given to articles on other topics, 
nor occasion I presume any extra expence — such for in- 
stance as M"" M'^Duffie's & Smith's reports or the extracts 
from M*" Gallatin's article. For the insertion of these I will 



124 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

pay either as they appear or in advance. Thus for instance if 
you will cause the articles I have indicated and others which 
I may prepare to be inserted in the newspaper in question, I 
will at once pay to you one thousand dollars. If this may 
facilitate the arrangement you propose I shall be glad. There 
is as you perceive nothing in this communication which I 
should care to conceal, but as it might be misconstrued, I 
inclose your letter to me & request that you will have the 
goodness to return what I have written to you. It will give 
me great pleasure to see you on the 15^^, and in the mean time 
I am with sincere regard & many thanks for your presenting 
the subject to me. 

BiDDLE TO Joseph Hemphill 

Philada: Feb: 10. 1831. 
My Dear Sir, 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 
S^'^: inst. inclosing a letter from Mr. Green,^ expressing his 
wish to borrow from the Bank twenty thousand dollars. I will 
submit it to the Board at their next meeting. In the mean 
time I can only say that it will receive from them a kind & 
respectful consideration as a matter of business, without look- 
ing to the past or the future. The Bank is glad to have friends 
from conviction, but seeks to make none from interest. For 
myself, I love the freedom of the Press too much to complain 
of its occasional injustice to me, & if the loan be made, it 
shall be with a perfect understanding, to be put into the Note 
if necessary, that the borrower is to speak his mind about the 
Bank, just as freely as he did before — which I take to be 
"ample room & verge enough." 

* Duff Green of the Telegraph. 



To yoseph Gales 125 

BiDDLE TO Enoch Parsons ^ Esq. 

PhIK Feb7 28^^ 183 1 
Dear Sir 

, . . In the general views expressed in your letter I en- 
tirely concur. It is deeply to be regretted that the President 
has taken this course, and we must endeavor as much as pos- 
sible to counteract its effect. But our weapons are truth and 
reason — our appeal is from the passions to the understand- 
ing, & the dissemination of correct views of the nature & oper- 
ations of the Bank is the most efficient engine we can employ. 
Further than this we ought not to go. I should lament deeply 
that those connected with the Bank should be active or zeal- 
ous or conspicuous in political contests. This would be wrong 
in itself: it is a violation of that perfect neutrality which is 
the first duty of the Bank. It would be injudicious too, even 
on calculation, since no advantage to be derived from their 
efforts would overbalance the general evil from their actual 
or supposed interference. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Joseph Gales Esqr. 

Ph^l^ March 2. 1831 
Dear Sir 

. . . On this whole subject of publication, my theory 

is very simple. I believe that nine tenths of the errors of men 

arise from their ignorance — and that the great security of 

all our institutions is in the power, the irresistible power, of 

truth. I recollect well when twenty years ago I opposed in the 

Legislature^ of my State the measures taken to prostrate 

1 Enoch Parsons, a lawyer of Hartford. Cf. Trumbull, J. H. (editor), Memorial 
History of Hartford County (Boston, 1886), vol. i, p. 130. 

^ A good sketch of Biddle's early career is given by Conrad, R. T., Sketch of 
Nicholas Biddle, in National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, vol. in. 



12 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

the former Bank, how much of the opposition to the Bank 
was the result of downright ignorance of its meaning and its 
operations, and I have hved to see the very individuals the 
most zealous in the work of destruction, candidly confess, as 
they have grown older and wiser, that they did not properly 
appreciate the institution. I know what was then wanting — 
and I am resolved that it shall not now be wanting. I saw 
the manner in which the small demagogues of that day de- 
ceived the community — and I mean to try to prevent the 
small demagogues of this day from repeating the same de- 
lusion. For this, there is but one course, the free circula- 
tion of plain honest truths by means of the press. There is 
one mode in which you can much assist me. It is by the trans- 
mission of a list, such as your long practice has enabled you 
to accumulate, of citizens with their respective addresses In 
various parts of the United States. Your own subscription 
list, with the additions which you propose to make for in- 
creased diffusion of your paper, would form excellent ma- 
terials & I would gladly defray the expence, if necessary, of 
copying that list which, for greater convenience, should be 
divided into States 

Biddle to James Hunter Esq. 

{-private) Bank U States 

May 4. 1 83 1 
Dear Sir 

. . . The President has undertaken to say of the Bank 
that which is wholly without foundation & to denounce the 
institution. The whole influence of his government, & of the 
presses subservient to his government, is employed in en- 
deavoring to break down the Bank. In this situation, the 



71? y. Harper 1 2 7 

Bank can only find safety in such explanations of its pro- 
ceedings as will satisfy the country that it has been justly 
assailed & that its operations are highly beneficial. But how 
it is to make these explanations, except thro' the press, the 
only channel of communication w^ith the people ? And if it 
employs that channel, why should it ask of printers to in- 
sert its explanations gratuitously? If a grocer wishes to ap- 
prize the public that he has a fresh supply of figs, the printer 
whom he employs for that purpose never thinks of giving his 
labor for nothing, but charges him for his trouble in inserting 
the advertisement. If the Bank in a like manner wishes a 
printer to insert information about its concerns, why should 
it not pay him for his trouble.^ The payment for the printing 
of documents thus disseminated is not only so proper but so 
just, that one is amused by the affected squemishness of the 
other printers who do not happen to be employed when they 
denounce the Bank for circulating documents which Con- 
gress itself has ordered to be disseminated by means of extra 
copies, and what is worse than all, paying the printers for 
their labor. . . . 

BiDDLE TO J. Harper 

{private) Bank U. States 

June 29. 1831 

Dear Sir 

Your favor of the i6^^ is duly received & the contents 
are extremely satisfactory. I was sure that the statement was 
a calumny, & am glad that we have it in our power to 
prove it so. 

I have heard various accounts of M^ Blairs' ^ connection 

1 Cf. Catterall, op. cit., p. 256, note on this topic. 



12 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

with the Office, such as his being indebted & settling his ac- 
count by paying ten per cent of the principal, immediately 
previous to his leaving Lexington to establish himself at 
Washington. Have the goodness to let me know the particu- 
lars of that transaction. 

Memorandum ^ by Biddle 

Oct^ 19, 183 1. 

About ten o'clock today M^ M^Lane, Sec^ of the Treas^ 
called to see me at the Bank. He had come to Phil^ princi- 
pally for the purpose of conversing with me after he had seen 
the President. 

He now stated that he had seen the President, and explained 
to him the course which he proposed to pursue in regard to the 
Bank. He had done this in order that there might be no mis- 
apprehension on the part of the Pres*^ of his views & the con- 
sequences which might result from what he proposed to say 
in his report. 

He said to the President that he thought the act of Con- 
gress which directed the Secretary of the Treasury to report 
annually to Congress made it the duty of that officer to pre- 
sent his own views & on his own responsibility and that the 
Executive stood rather in the light of a mediator between 
him (the Sec-^) & the Legislature. That such had always been 
the construction of the powers of the Secretaries. (This was 
obviously an infusion by M*" Dickins to whom I left a volume 
with all the passages marked which I thought might encour- 
age this opinion.) He proceeded to explain to the Pres*^ what 
his intentions were. He means to speak of the power of the 

* Catterall, op. cit., pp. 209-211, note. This memorandum is quoted in full in 
Catterall's book and the subject discussed in full in the above-mentioned pages. 



Memorandum 1 2 9 

Gov^ to pay off the whole of the debt on the 3^ of March 1833 
with the aid of the Bank stock; that this stock if sold out 
would occasion alarm in the country & the panic would sink 
its value; whereas he was satisfied that the Bank would take 
it at a reasonable price, not less certainly than eight millions. 
This would give him an opportunity of speaking of the Bank 
in the most favorable manner, recommending the continuance 
of the charter of the present Bank in preference to a new one, 
with such modifications as without injuring the institution 
might be useful to the country & acceptable to the Executive. 
This he meant to present in the strongest manner he could 
to Congress. All this he explained particularly to the Presi- 
dent who made no objection whatever. For greater precision 
he had put down the heads of what he meant to say in his 
report & showed them to the President. M' Livingston by 
request of M' M^Lane was present at this meeting. 

It had been previously understood between M' Livingston 
& M*" M'^Lane that the Pres* should say nothing in the 
m.essage about the Bank. The President acquiesced tho' re- 
luctantly in this, because he thought he could not well be si- 
lent with consistentcy. But in my (N B's) conversations with 
him M' M^Lane I had expressed the opinion that his silence 
would not be so useful as his mentioning the subject. The 
matter was therefore renewed with Mess""^ Livingston & M'= 
Lane & the Pres* and it was resolved that he should intro- 
duce the subject in this way — that having on former occa- 
sions brought the question before the Congress it was now 
left with the representatives of the people. 

M*" M^Lane with a view to show the Pres' the full extent 
to which his report might lead, said that perhaps when his 
report was presented & referred to the Comm^ of Ways & 



130 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Means M"" M^Duffie In his present mode of thinking In regard 
to the Bank might choose to Introduce a bill Into Congress for 
continuing the Charter & If so he (M"" M'^Lane) could not with 
the views which he entertained of the Bank make any oppo- 
sition to it. The President said he would be sorry If the ques- 
tion were forced upon him in that way. 

I said it would be necessary to scan very accurately the 
Pres^^'s speech so that there might not be a shade of opinion 
expressed against it, or any declaration that having once ex- 
pressed his views & having no reason to change them he would 
now leave it to Congress &c. M' M'^Lane said certainly no 
such expression could or should be Introduced, as it would not 
be In harmony or consistency with his own (M"" M's) report. 

M'^ M^Lane said that he would be willing to charter the 
Bank without any bonus, but intimated that he thought a 
large bonus would be required, & said that this should be 
considered in our proposed purchase of Bank stock. 

He said that he thought the greatest danger of the Bank 
was from those who wished to pull down this Bank In order 
to build up another, that a M'' West of Salem had been very 
pressing on that point. I said there were I believed some capi- 
talists in Boston & New York who were anxious about It, 
but I thought they had little political weight. He said that 
the argument was that to continue It would be a monopoly. 

In regard to the period of applying for a renewal, he does 
not wish to be considered as the adviser of the Bank because 
it might be imputed to him that he was acting in concert 
with the institution, but he renewed the opinion which he 
expressed at Washington that it was doubtful (Indeed he 
seemed to be more inclined now to think It Inexpedient) 
whether it would be expedient to apply this year. His idea 



Memorandum 131 

was that If it were put to the President as a test, he would 
be more disposed to reject It on that very account. The Pres' 
is now perfectly confident of his election — the only ques- 
tion is the greater or the less majority, but he is sure of suc- 
cess & wishes to succeed by a greater vote than at the first 
election. If therefore while he is so confident of reelection 
this question is put to him as one affecting his reelection, he 
might on that account be disposed to put his veto on it, if 
he be as it were dared to do it. For what I see, says M'' 
M*^Lane of the character of Gen' Jackson, I think he would 
be more disposed to yield when he Is strong than when he is 
in danger. 

The footing then on which the matter stands is this : 

The President is to say that having previously brought 
the subject to Congress, he now leaves it with them. 

The Secretary is to recommend the renewal. 

This latter point pleases me much. When I saw him at 
Washington he did not think he could go so far as to origi- 
nate a recomendatlon of the Bank, & I therefore examined 
all the reports of all the Secretaries to show that the pro- 
posals for the Bank all originated with them & I left the vol- 
umes of these reports in M'' Dickin's hands marked, so that 
he might urge them on the Secretary's attention. 

He thinks he can present the Tariff question strongly — he 
will then press with equal strength the Bank question & if he 
can arrange the question of the public lands (the surrender to 
them of the lands within their limits at a certain price so as 
to make the landholding states pay in stock to the old States 
the proportion which the latter have a right to) the Bank 
would be put In such company & on such a footing that even 
M"" Benton would not attack it. 



132 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

On his way to M'' Carroll's with the Pres^ the latter ad- 
verted to the inconsistency of those who pulled down the old 
Bank & built up the new — & particularly of the objection 
then made that foreigners were stockholders. This he con- 
sidered an unfounded objection. (He mentioned this to me 
at Washington.)^ 

Some surprize was felt by the Pres' of the Bank at perceiv- 
ing in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury the following 
phrases: 

"It is not perceived that there Is any sufficient justifica- 
"tion in the grounds of the transaction as assumed by the 
"Bank for an arrangement in any form, by which so large 
" an amount of the public funds should be retained by the 
"Bank at the risk of the Gov^ after it had directed their 
"application to the payment of the public creditor." 

The reason of the surprize was this. On the 14^^ of Oct^ 
1832, theChief Clerk of the Treasury Department addressed a 
letter to the Pres^ of the Bank written obviously & avowedly 
at the request of the Secretary of the Treasury for the pur- 
pose of enabling the Pres*^ of the Bank to contradict certain 
statements about the three per cents which appeared In a 
New York paper of the 12*^ of October. The letter, tho' not 
itself written for publication, was written professedly as the 
basis of a publication by the Pres* of the Bank, and author- 
ized him to vouch certain things. Having no taste for news- 
paperisms, the Pres*^ of the Bank never answered and Indeed 
never read the New York paper, but if he had answered it, 
he would have asserted the fact vouched for by the follow- 

J Biddle evidently added to the Memorandum from this point at a later date 
because the following references are to the Secretary of the Treasurer's report 
of 1832. Cf. Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1829-1836, vol. iii, 
p. 295. 



Memorandum 133 

Ing extract of the letter referred to, a letter written by the 
Chief Clerk of the Treas^ at the request of the Secretary 
containing suggestions by the Secretary of what the Pres* 
of the Bank ought to publish. The suggestion was in these 
words : 

"Nor has the Treasury any reason to object to the course 
"which the Bank has pursued in regard to the European 
"holders of the 3 per cents. On the contrary that measure 
"appears wise & prudent, & well adapted to prevent the 
"embarrassments which the sudden withdrawal of so much 
" foreign capital from the country would necessarily produce." 

This was on the 14^^ of Oc^. 1832. 

Another reason of the surprize of the Pres*^ of the Bank was 
that on the of November 1832 he was waited upon by 

the Chief Clerk of the Treasury who announced himself as 
coming from the Secretary of the Treasury to make enquiry 
about the Certificates of stock. The Chief Clerk stated not 
once nor casually, but frequently & emphatically, what he 
had written on the 14^^ of October, that the Secretary was 
perfectly satisfied with the measure itself, but only desired 
that the Certificates should appear soon in order that the 
doubts of others might be removed, & he pressed the Pres^ 
of the Bank to write a letter to the Secretary explaining the 
matter. In consequence of this request, the Pres' of the Bank 
wrote a letter to the Secretary on the . If it had not 

been clearly & repeatedly stated that the Secretary was 
entirely satisfied & wanted only the means of satisfying 
others undoubtedly this letter would never have been writ- 
ten. The Pres^ of the Bank did not know — did not wish to 
know, & certainly would never have asked to know what the 
opinions of the Secretary were on the subject. The communi- 



134 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

cation therefore to nim that the Treasury deemed the meas- 
ure wise & prudent, and that the Secretary was satisfied 
with it was wholly gratuitous and in truth it might as well 
have been spared, since really it does not seem strictly proper 
to treat the Bank in this way — to denounce its measures in 
public at the same time that you praise them in private. 

The Pres*^ of the Bank was also surprized at that passage 
in the report of the Secretary he states that various consider- 
ations "have suggested an enquiry into the Security of the 
Bank as the depository of the public funds." 

His surprize arose from two circumstances. 

The first was that on the 31'^ of Oct^ 1832, the Secretary 
addressed to him a letter requesting to know what the Bank 
would give for 3,919,666.66 francs — about ^700,000 — being 
the first instalment of the French indemnity.^ In that letter 
he stated that "i^ would he sufficient for the Treasury to re- 
ceive a credit for the amount in the Bank of the U.S. one 
month after the payment of the bill in Paris say on the 2^ of 
March next," adding that "if as I presume an arrangement 
for the transfer May be best made with the Bank, I will 
thank you to state the terms." , 

It seems strange, that the Secretary at the same time that 
he announces to Congress his fears about the solvency of the 
Bank, should ask that very Bank to take in its own hands 
$700,000 additional money of the public, not to be paid for 
until the 3^ of March next. 

The other reason of surprize is that the Secretary on the 

requested to know of the Bank what it would give 

for a bill on London for the 3^ instalment of the Danish in- 

1 Cf. MacDonald, William, Jacksonian Democracy (New York, 1907), PP- 
204-207. 



71? Nathaniel Silsbee 135 

demnity amounting to about $244,000. Here then the Secre- 
tary, in the midst of his anxiety for the safety of the public 
monies in the Bank, actually proposes to place no less than 
a million of dollars more of that very public money In that 
very Bank — sure never was Insolvency so much flattered 
before. 

John Tilford to Biddle 

Lexington Nov 11. 1831. 
Dear Sir 

M"" Clay was elected to the Senate of the United States 
by a majority of nine Votes. 

In a conversation with him a short time ago, he men- 
tioned that he had about a year ^ since, thought that the 
Stockholders of the Bank of the United States, should not for 
some Two or three years ask for a renewal of their Charter, 
but that he now thought differently and would advise an im- 
mediate aplicatlon to be made by them. I give the informa- 
tion to you, as the opinions of prominent men may be de- 
sirable on this subject at this time. 

BiDDLE TO Nathaniel Silsbee 

PhIlad^ Nov^ 21. 1831 
My dear Sir 

Without having come to any determination in regard 
to an application to Congress at the aproaching session for 
a recharter of the Bank, it Is thought better to provide against 
such a contingency by relieving our friends in both houses 
from an embarrassment which might grow out of their con- 
nexion with the Bank. With this view in the elections of Dlrec- 

* Cf. letter of Clay, September 11, 1830. 



136 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

tors for the present year, we have omitted those who are mem- 
bers of Congress. In writing today to M*" Greene I have sug- 
gested the same course in respect to yourself. As we have 
already claimed your services whenever we could obtain them, 
& I hope we will long continue to enjoy them, it is unneces- 
sary to say a word in regard to this omission, which under 
existing circumstances, I am sure you will perfectly under- 
stand, and I trust appreciate. Hoping soon to see you on 
your passage southward, I remain with great respect and 
regard. 

Edward Shippen to BmoLE 

(Confidential) Louisville 6 Dec. 183 1 

Dear Sir 

I have seen a letter from the Private Secretary of the 
President to a gentleman in this City, in answer to a com- 
munication addressed to the President on the Subject of a 
renewal of the Bank Charter. The substance of that letter 
is, that the Pres"^*^ does not consider himself pledged against 
a renewal, and that if Congress passes a Bill with proper 
modifications of the Charter his approval will not be with- 
held. 

I have taken some pains to ascertain the objections to the 
present Charter, and the modifications which it is thought 
will insure the Executive sanction. I give them to you with 
the only object of putting you in possession of the views held 
on this interesting subject by those who are deep in the se- 
crets and favor of the President. 

I'' Prohibit the establishment of more than two Branches 
in each State. 

2. The Stock now owned by government to be sold to in- 



From Edward Shippen 1 3 7 

dividuals, in a manner that will prevent a few persons from 
monopolizing it. The Sale of the Government Stock will sat- 
isfy many in the North, and remove the existing objection 
of the President to a 'partnership between the Gov^ and a 
Corporation. 

3''^ Limit the power or capacity of the Institution to hold 
real Estate. Say, the value of that description of property in 
possession of the Bank shall not at any time exceed lo or 
15 millions of dollars. 

4. Take from the Corporation the power to loan money 
on a pledge of merchandize. 

5. Give to the President and Directors of the Bank au- 
thority to appoint two individuals to sign all the notes issued 
(for the President & Cashier) and let all the paper emanate 
from the Mother Bank. 

6. The existing provisions in relation to Government de- 
posits, and Direction of the Bank, to be preserved. 

7. Render the Corporation Suable in the Courts of the 
Several States by making the service of process on the Presi- 
dent or Cashier of the Branch, & where the cause of action 
arose, a service on the Corporation. 

It is believed that the modifications suggested will ensure 
the renewal of the Bank Charter. They are not calculated 
to impair the usefulness or efficiency of the Institution, and 
if proposed by the Corporation, they will really be adopted 
by Congress. By proposing the necessary modifications, the 
Bank will strengthen herself with the people, prevent an 
angry discussion in Congress, which might result in making 
the question of renewing the Charter a party test, and ensure 
the sanction of the Executive to the modifications solicited by 
the Bank, and adopted by Congress. 



138 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

I give you these suggestions and opinions only on account 
of the source from whence they emanate. They are urged 
with apparent zeal in favor of the Bank, and altho' I am for- 
bidden to mention names I have no doubt it was expected I 
would communicate their ideas to you. 

My own opinion is that the object is entirely political. The 
popularity of the President must fall in the West/ if his 
hostility to the Bank is continued. The letter of the Private 
Secretary urges the necessity of proper modifications, which 
cannot be suggested by the President, and from the tenor of 
that letter, and the anxiety manifested by the party here, I 
think they are desirous to have the Bank question settled by 
a renewal before the next Presidential canvass, with any 
modifications to free the Pres^' from the charge of an entire 
abandonment of his original opposition. 

Samuel Smith to Biddle 

Wash^ 7'^ Dec' 183 1 
My dear Sir 

I had last night a long conversation with M^Lane 
and I am authorized by him to say that it is his deliberate 
opinion and advice that a renewal of the Charter ought not 
to be pressed during the present session in which I concurr 
most sincerely. The message is as much as you could expect. 
It shows that the Chief is wavering. If pressed into a Corner 
immediately neither M^^Lane nor myself will answer for the 
consequences. But we both feel confident of ultimate success 
if time be given for the P' to convince himself of the Error 
into which opinion long formed (prejudice if you pleased) 

1 For a careful discussion and analysis of President Jackson's popularity in 
the West, cf. Dodd, William E., Expansion and Conflict (Boston, 1915), pp. 20-39. 



From Robert Gibbes 139 

had committed him. Every day new Converts are making. 
Every day the utility of the Bank is becoming better known, 
and its popularity increasing. The mind of the President is 
getting better informed. And the increase of its friends can- 
not fail to have a favourable Effect on him therefore do not 
push him out of time. Give full play to the members of the 
Administration. Every one of whom (except Taney) are fa- 
vourable; his opposition, I think, arises out of the mistaken 
Idea that the Bank has operated politically. Can you give me 
the means of Conquering that Idea. 

M N. Mangum of N.C. a new Senator is a warm advocate 
of the Bank; he lodges with your friend 

Robert Gibbes to Biddle 

confidential Baltimore ii'^. Dec^. 1831. 

My D^ Sir 

I have just heard a conversation which I deem suf- 
ficiently interesting to write you about, as it concerns the 
Bank of the U.S. Of its accuracy you could have no doubt 
did you know the individuals. 

From the Presidents message, and the Report of the Sec^ 
of the Treasury we were all lead to believe that the powers 
that be were in favor of re-chartering that invaluable insti- 
tution. Now to the facts — Barry, ^ Woodbury, & Taney ^ 
are hostile. These three are under the influence of Blair, 
Lewis, Kendall & CO. who still rule our Chief Magistrate, 
and who himself is an enemy to the Bank in despite what he 
is made to say in his message. But on M"". M^Lane's Report 
have we placed our hopes; now the "Globe" denounces his 

* Major Barry, a close friend of President Jackson. 

* Later Secretary of Treasury under President Jackson. 



140 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

sentiments, and the Paragraph formed for that purpose was 
so objectionable, that on being shewn to M'' M^L. he declared 
that was it published, he would send his resignation the next 
morning — it was accordingly modified as it appeared in that 
paper. Neither Barry or Woodbury saw the Report until it 
appeared in print. The President of course had it submitted 
to him, and was persuaded at the time to give it his sanction. 
But has since read with satisfaction the Richmond Enquirer 
which says that it will require a majority of three jour ths 
of Congress to carry the measure into a Law. 

I write you these remarks hastily, as they may be of serv- 
ice to you to know the actual state of affairs at Wash^ in 
order to advance the all important subject which you must 
have so much at heart. I fear you will yet have much trouble 
with our wise governors. You have most heartily my good 
wishes and I am almost prejudiced enough to say and that 
of every honest man in the Community. 

C. F. Mercer ^ to Biddle 

(private) ■ Washington D.C. 

Dec' 12^^. 1831 
Dear Sir 

. . . Two years ago I earnestly advised you not to at- 
tempt the renewal of the Charter of the Bank of the United 
States, In the hey day of Genl. J"^ administration. I told you 
what I dare say you had already discovered that his party, 
I meant its active leaders, would quarrel among themselves, 
and knowing his hostility to the Bank, I advised you to 
await that result. 

I now as confidently recommend it to you to press this 

* Representative from Virginia. 



From C, F. Mercer \\\ 

Congress at this session for the renewal of your Charter for 
reasons too numerous and important to be compressed in the 
compass of a letter which I really have not time to write. I 
will however present to you a part of them, and my object 
being wholly disinterested I shall study brevity in my lan- 
guage rather than effect. Gen'. Jackson's popularity has de- 
clined much more among men of intelligence than with the 
great body of the people. It has especially declined in Con- 
gress. But his election is as certain as his life. He hates your 
Bank and has reason enough to do so. His silly notions re~ 
specting it have been exposed with your approbation, and 
he is mortified or vexed as well as angry. 

Altho I hold his election to be certain every body else 
does not do so. But no one can doubt but that his reelec- 
tion will increase the effect of his influence over this Con- 
gress, 

Calhoun is friendly to your bank and he will certainly not 
be again Vice President.^ He has little influence, but where 
it exists It Is powerful and it exists among your enemies to the 
South. 

M^'Duffy has ability and influence & talents and integrity 
and he is still the the friend of Calhoun, Chairman of the 
very committee to whom your memorial if presented would 
be referred. 

Van Buren your enemy is in England.^ If a candidate 
four years hence for the presidency his influence will be felt 
to your prejudice. 

If you wait till the next session of Congress remember 

^ Calhoun's career as Vice-President is discussed by von Hoist, H., John 
C. Calhoun (Boston, 1898), pp. 61-103. 

2 A sketch of Van Buren's ministry to England is given in Shephard, Ed- 
ward M., Martin Van Buren (Boston, 1891), pp. 191-203. 



142 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

it Is the short session and will not allow time to mature 
your bill. Consider also that by that period Jacksons suc- 
cess will have been ascertained and his power enlarged and 
Invigorated. 

The Sec^ of the Treasury and Js Cabinet probably are now 
on your side. They may not continue to be so because the per- 
sons who fill these political stations may be changed. . . . 

Henry Clay ^ to Biddle 

Washington 15*** December 183 1. 
read 20'^ Dec' & Referred Comm^^ 
on the Offices.^ 
My dear Sir 

. . . Have you come to any decision about an appli- 
cation to Congress at this Session for the renewal of your 
Charter.? The friends of the Bank here, with whom I have 
conversed, seem to expect the application to be made. The 
course of the President, In the event of the passage of a bill, 
seems to be a matter of doubt and speculation. My own be- 
lief Is that, If now called upon he would not negative the bill, 
but that If he should be re-elected the event might and prob- 
ably would be different. 

* On October 4, 1831, Clay wrote to Francis Brooke on the need of re-char- 
tering the Bank as follows: "I think the Charter of the B. of the U.S. ought to be 
renewed upon equitable conditions. I am perfectly willing to abide by the rea- 
sons which I assigned for a change of my opinion (the only change of opinion I ever 
made on a great pol. question) relative to that institution, and which are to be 
found in my public speeches." And again on December 25, 183 1, writing to Brooke: 
"The Executive is playing a deep game to avoid, at this session, the responsibility 
of any decision on the Bank Question. It is not yet ascertained whether the Bank, 
by forbearing to apply for a renewal of their Charter, will or will not conform to 
the wishes of the President. I think they will act very unwisely if they do not 
apply." Cf. Colton, Clay's Works, vol. iv, pp. 316, 322. 

* These words are in red ink in the original manuscript. 



From Samuel Smith 143 

Samuel Smith to Biddle 

Washington, Dec'. 17. 183 1 
Dear Sir 

This morning M*". Clay, on returning a visit I had paid 
him, took occasion to broach the subject of the renewal of 
the Charter of the Bank of the U. States, by enquiring 
whether I had any precise information as to its purpose to 
memorialise Congress on the subject. I replied that I had not; 
that I had myself been inclined to think that, as the subject 
was national, and had so repeatedly and recently received 
the notice of the Executive, it might be the best policy to 
let the Gov' act upon it without the special interposition of 
the Bank, as it would in this event be acted upon on large pub- 
lic considerations, free from the prejudices which might arise 
on viewing its bearings on private interests. He expressed his 
dissent from this opinion; said the present was the most favor- 
able time to get the charter; that a majority of the two Houses 
was for it; that he himself should vote for it; that M^ Buck- 
ner, the new Senator from Missouri, had told him he would 
do so; that the President had unquestionably the last sum- 
mer declared (stating the name of the individual to whom he 
made the declaration) that either the Bank or Andrew Jack- 
son must go down; that it was probable that, if two Houses 
passed a Bill, the President would approve it previous to the 
next Presidential election, but that if not passed previously 
he did not doubt his rejecting it; in fact, that now or never, 
was the time to act with any chance of success. 

I stated to him that in conversation with several members 
of Congress, personal friends of the President, and others of 
like character, they had expressed great solicitude that the 



144 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

subject should not at this session be pressed by the Bank, 
declaring at the same time their friendship to the Bank, 
with the fear, if so pressed, the measure would be considered 
by the President as an electioneering one, and would scarcely 
fail to be felt by him as personal, and being so viewed impel 
him, in the assertion of his independence, to put his veto on 
the Bill, that it might not be alleged that he was influenced 
by a regard to a re-election; that the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury was adverse to the subject being taken up at this time; 
and that if the discussion were deferred, as public opinion, 
particularly in the West, was becoming more favorable, the 
President, yielding to its influence, would be apt to become 
himself less adverse to a continuance of the Charter. 

He said that his information corraborated mine; but that 
he did not believe the effect on the President would be such 
as was represented ; that if the Bank memorialised Congress 
it would be but following in the wake of the President; that if 
they did not, he doubted whether the subject would be effec- 
tively brought forward ; that many of the members would avail 
themselves of the circumstance to wave the discussion of the 
subject; that, further, it should be considered that if the press- 
ing it by the Bank should be viewed by the friends of the Pres- 
ident as an electioneering measure aimed against him, there 
was another aspect of the subject under which those opposed 
to the President, and in general friends to the Bank, might 
consider the delay to memorialise, especially after the actions 
of the stockholders on the subject, as an electioneering step 
against them; that already rumors of a coalition to this effect 
was circulated; and that in regard to the feeling in the West, 
it was quite doubtful; he believed they (the representa- 
tives) might without injury vote for a renewal, but there 



From Daniel W^ebster 145 

would be little sensation there let the decision be what it 
might. . . .' 

Altho' these views are probably familiar to you, and you 
may, thro' other channels, be possessed of the facts I have 
stated, I have supposed there might be a use in communi- 
cating them, with the opinion . . . that the views and reason- 
ing of M"" Clay are In the main correct. I may add, that you 
know him sufficiently well to admit, that, however glittering 
the prize of ambition may be, he is remarkable for the habit- 
ual exercise of dispassionate judgement and clear perception. I 
would add, however, my aprehension, that, altho' the discussion 
will shew a majority in favor of the Bank, there will be a suffi- 
cient number of members voting with its enemies for an indefi- 
nite postponement to defeat the passage of a Bill this session. 

... I am, with unfeigned respect 

Daniel Webster to BmoLE 

Washington Deer i8. 183 1 
My Dear Sir 

The state of my health & the severity of the weather 
have prevented me, since my arrival here, from being much 
abroad. Nevertheless, I have seen a great number of per- 
sons, & conversed with them, among other things, respecting 
the Bank. The result of all these conversations has been 
a strong confirmation of the opinion which I expressed at 
Philadelphia that it is expedient for the Bank to apply for 
the renewal of its Charter without delay. I do not meet a 
Gentleman, hardly, of another opinion; & the little incidents 
& anecdotes, that occur & circulate among us, all tend to 
strengthen the impression. Indeed, I am now a good deal 
inclined to think, that after Gen' Jackson's re-election there 



146 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

would be a poor chance for the Bank. I am well informed, 
that within three days, he has in conversation with several 
Gentlemen, reiterated his old opinions, somewhat vocifer- 
ously, & declared them unchangeable. 

I have thought. My Dear Sir, the best advice I could give 
you, is, that you come down here, yourself, & survey the 
ground. You will have access to men of all parties, & can di- 
gest your information, compare opinions, & judge discreetly 
upon the whole matter. In my judgment, this is your true 
course, & ought to be immediately followed. 

I am, Dear Sir, always faithfully 

BiDDLE TO ASBURY DiCKINS EsQ. 

Phil^ Dec'. 20, 183 1. 
My dear Sir, 

. . . M*" M^Lanes report is all that his friends could 
wish — enlarged liberal, wise, & statesmanlike. It is much 
fitter for a President's message than the President's message 
itself & I wish with all my heart that the writer of it was 
President. The style of the paragraph in that message about 
the Bank, with the commentary of the Globe, the Richmond 
Enquirer, & the Standard, I confess shake my confidence 
much. It is not in such an ambiguous tone that a President 
should speak or make his dependants speak. 

Thomas Cadwalader to BmDLE 

Washington 20. Dec: 1831. 
Tuesday Eve: 
My dear Sir, 

This is merely to report my arrival & that I am quar- 
tered at Barnard's Hotel. 



From Thomas Cadwalader 147 

i I had some talk with my companion, the Senator/ who 
seems disposed to give all the aid he can, tho' he hangs in 
doubt as to the policy of starting the application now^ unless 
it can be ascertained that we have 2/3*^% in asmuch as he 
has lately had intimations, from a quarter w*" he considers 
entitled to full credit, leading him to apprehend a Veto, on 
a smaller vote: at the same time he acknowledges that the 
chances of such negative may be greater after the Election. 
Of his Colleague & Brother in Law (W.) he speaks doubt- 
ingly. He will give me however all he can gather about him, 
as well as about the members below from Penns^ & says he 
will help along. I have sent a note to M"" M^Lane, asking to 
fix a time tomorrow morning to talk with me, & you shall 
hear from me after seeing him.^ 

Thomas Cadwalader to Biddle 

Barnard's ^ — Washington 
{Private) 21. Dec. 1831. 

My dear Sir, 

I yesterday reported my arrival. I have had this morn- 

^ This must refer to the Senator from Pennsylvania. 

^ These and the following letters of Cadwalader throw much light upon the 
political moves in Washington in the fall of 1831. Professor Catterall states that 
John Sergeant and Daniel Webster were largely instrumental in Biddle's coming 
to his final decision to memorialize immediately for the re-charter of the Bank. 
However, these statements are not substantiated by any direct proof. It is quite 
correct to say that Sergeant had a great influence on Biddle's moves — especially 
in local politics and in the later re-chartering of the Bank by the State of Pennsyl- 
vania. But there is no evidence to show Sergeant's or Webster's power in the 
present issue. On the other hand, the Cadwalader correspondence shows almost 
conclusively that Biddle was mainly swayed by what his agent in Washington 
reported. 

' Barnard's Hotel was at the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 
Fourteenth Street. Frederick Barnard had succeeded Basil Williamson as pro- 
prietor in 1824. Bryan, Wilhelmas B., A History of the National Capital (New 
York, 1916), vol. II, p. 59, note 6. 



148 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

ing a long & frank conversation with M"" M'^Lane. He says 
positively that the President will reject the Bill, if the matter is 
agitated this Session. He (the Pres^) & those about him w"* 
regard the movement, before the election, as an act of hos- 
tility, or as founded on the idea that his opinions w^ bend to 
personal views, & that his fears w*^ induce him to truckle. M"": 
M*^L. is sure that under such circumstances he w*^ apply his 
veto, even if certain that he w*^ thereby lose the Election. The 
question he says cannot now be started without being re- 
garded as a party one, & the influence of the government w^ 
be thrown upon it so that we should lose a large number of 
votes which under other circumstances we should gain — 
the rejection not being considered as a final one — as the 
question may be renewed at the next session, or a subsequent 
one, the Veto once given the President w'^ never swerve, & 
that 2/3^^ w'^ be required on any subsequent trial. Accord- 
ingly to the Sect's view of it, therefore, we are now to see 
whether we can rely on 2/2,^^ under the circumstances 
averted to, namely the operation of party feeling, & Gov*^ 
influence and to that inquiry I devote myself. M"". M'^L. 
seems to have canvassed the Senate thoroughly, & we have 
gone over the names together. He gives us — Maine, Mass"^ 
Rhode Is'^ Connecticut & Vermont — two each & New 
Hampshire making 11 

N.Jersey 2. — but if this session, strike off" Dickerson — 

say then I 

Penns* Wilkins positively against us this Session & Dallas 
too as he thinks, tho both for us at another time — 
Delaware — 2 

tho' if Rodney takes Clayton's place he is contra. 
Maryland (if this Session, we lose Smith! 1 1 for certain), I 



From Thomas Cadwalader 149 

N.Carolina — Mangum — (our friend) w^ vote with the 

party 
if brought on now — Brown against us — 
S.Car^ Hayne dead a^ the Bank — Miller ag*; 
us nozv. Georgia Forsyth — on one side but 
for this Session w"^ be adverse. Kentucky (Clay), I 

Tennesee — Grundy w'^ work for us strongly bye i^ hye, 

but now w'^ be contra. Ohio & Louis^ 4 

Indiana — Hendricks favorable, but w^ go with Gov* 
if nozv to vote — Hanna resigned. 

Mississippi — Ellis — like Hendricks — Pointdexter dead con. 
Illinois — both contra. Alabama — Moere con. 
King — in favor, but w^ go with party if nozv to vote. 
Missouri — (Buckner) i 

21 
If M^L.'s views are right (& he tells me they are chiefly 
founded on personal communications) this is discouraging 
as to the present session. As to the H.of R. heconsiders Maine 
all contra; New Hampshire divided; Mass"^ all in favor, so 
R. IsH Conn*: & Vermont, N.Y. 15 dead against, 4 doubt- 
ful — the rest in favor (including Root & White — both of 
whom at present session w'^ vote contra). 
Jersey, all favorable — Penns^ all favorable, but half 

against if nozv agitated — Del^ i pro. 
Maryland, 2 doubtful — Mitchell dead against, the rest 

in favor — but 2 of them ag* nozv. 
Virg^ 4 only viz: Barber, Mercer, Newton & Doddridge — 

on our side 
N.Car^ 3 pro: all the rest con — including in the latter yr 

Cavzna Shiphard.^ 

^ Must be William B. Shepard. 



150 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

S.Car^ all con — except M^Duffie & Drayton. 

Georgia — Wilde only for us. Kentucky 5. pro: 7. con: 

Ten^^ Arnold & Bell pro — but not if now tested. 

Ohio — all pro. Louis^ all con. so — Indiana, Illinois, & Alabama. 

Miss' doubtful, Missouri pro I. — 

These are M'' M'^Lane's impressions. All will be cautiously 

sifted by information from other quarters. 

I have seen M'^Duffie, & am to have my talk with him 
tomorrow morning: Had a note also from Gen' Smith — with 
whom I am to confer. 9 p.m. I have just left M*^ M^^Lane 
— with whom I have passed the Eve. We have gone over 
the ground again — he re-iterating & enforcing his views & 
opinions as before expressed, amounting to this — if you 
apply now, you assurdedly will fail — if you wait, you will as 
certainly succeed. He thinks Gen*. J. will hereafter sign the 
Bill, if it appears that a large portion of the People are for the 
Bank. He tells me Cass Livingston & Barry are decidedly for 
the Bank, & Woodbury also favorable to it — the 2 later 
w"^ work against it if the question is agitated before the Elec- 
tion. Taney fixed against us — he is latterly radical on all 
points — par example, he thinks the Judges ought to hold 
their appointments only for 4 or 5 years. I write, as my letter 
shews, hastily — no time to read over — People calling — 
all the P.M. & it is now being late. I will get together before I 
leave this place materials on which the Board may make cal- 
culations — giving as I shall do, the authorities on w^ I de- 
pend. My object is to correct the votes on w*" we may rely 
in case of an application at this Session. With that informa- 
tion before us, the decision may readily be made. 

I have a great deal of private matter opened to me w^ will 
better to talk than to write on. 



From Thomas Cadwalader 



151 



Thomas Cadwalader to Biddle 

Washington 
Barnard's 22. Dec: 183 1 
My dear Sir, 

I yesterday gave you the ideas of M"" McLane & have 
to day had a conference with M'' McDuffie. He leans strongly 
to an immediate application — but is much staggered by what 
I learned from M^L. He now thinks we must ascertain our 
strength carefully & not start the business unless sure of a 
majority under the circumstances adverted to in my last. 
He was entirely candid & confidential — has no good will to 
the Administration & is disposed to view their movements 
with doubt & suspicion. He will not give up the idea that the 
P. will be more likely to sign the bill now than after the Elec- 
tion, & under any circumstance he thinks we ought to go on, 
if we can poll a certain majority. Let the P. then veto, if he 
finds freedom to do so — in the face of his Message & M^^L's 
Report — & we may bring on the measure with a fair chance 
of the 2/3*^^ next year. We are now getting exact informa- 
tion as to the vote — in w^ he will help. Tomorrow after ten, 
I meet Gen' Smith & dine with him & M'^Duffie at M' 
McLanes. That triumvirate & my unworthy self are to dis- 
cuss the subject in conclave at the Sect's office on Saturday 
Eve. 

All our Penns^ members of the H. of R. (except Horn, 
Dewart, ^ & Mann) are said to be for us, even in the teeth of 
the P — that part I shall better sift, before I rely on all — 
Ford & King, I do not feel sure of. I shall look closely at those 
of them who voted for Stevenson, ^ fearing their steadiness 

1 This evidently refers to Lewis Dewart, Representative from Pa., 1831-1833. 

2 Andrew Stevenson of Virginia, Speaker of the House in 1831. 



152 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

in acting counter to Executive influence. M^D. doubts 
whether that feeling will operate as powerfully as has been 
supposed — he calculates on the odium it w^ produce, affect- 
ing equally the acting & the acted upon. 

Observe that I give you, as I go along, what I hear from 
others. When I get all the materials to be gathered, & hear 
all opinions, I shall make up my own. The conference of 
Saturday Eve: may perhaps open new lights — tho there 
will be in it more of diplomatic reserve than in my previous 
tete-a-tetes with the Individuals. I keep my eyes & ears 
sharply open & hear a great deal more than seems to be 
worth recollecting 

I am interrupted & must close — 

Thomas Cadwalader to Biddle 

Washington 23. Dec: 183 1 
Barnards 
My dear Sir, 

Gen. Smith entirely goes with the administration in his 
objections to the agitation 0/ the question at this Session — 
it will be made a Jackson & anti-Jackson vote, as he says, 
it being entirely impossible to persuade the Pres*^ that we 
are acting under any other than a hostile feeling to him. 
Under that view of the subject, in a vote of this Session, Smith 
says, we lose in the Senate 10 votes which we might count 
in our favor next year — viz; 

Jersey i. Dickerson 

Penns^ 2 (Dallas told S. so. Wilkins is certain for the party) 

Maryland i (Smith* ! 1 ! as he himself tells me.) 

N.Car: i. (Mangum) 

Georgia I. (Forsyth) 



From Thomas Cadwalader 153 

Mississippi i. (Pointdexter — not certain — as he is sound 

with the Pres^') 
Illinois 2 (Kane & Robinson (both supposed friendly — 

but strong party men) 
Indiana i (Hendricks — doubtful if he w"^ vote for us at 
10 all — another man to be in Hanna's place — 
dead contra. 

* Smith failing us, you will think the question settled for 
this session — & so it is, unless we can turn the administra- 
tion men from their objections to a present movement of it. 
This I shall perhaps know in a few days. The conference with 
M'Lane, Smith & M^Dufhe is put off to Sunday. Gen*. S. 
& also M'^L. & M'^D. advert often to the general impression 
that the Bank operates powerfully ag*^ the Jackson party — 
they themselves having no such notion: — I have said to each 
of them that your Letter Book ^ contains the best evidence 
to the contrary & would shew, if it c'^ be looked into, that we 
not only endeavour to keep the Bank & city offices out of the 
political vortex, but dissuade the officers of the Institution 
from being prominent as party men. I recollect letters to that 
point extracts from which c^ be used in a quiet way by Smith, 
as he thinks, with a powerful effect — I advise you sending 
them if no objection strikes you to your so doing. . . . 

I therefore now close — with one remark — that as far as 
my consultations with our friends have gone, the Jackson 
portion of them argue against starting the question at this 
Session — and the Clay portion are equally anxious for its 
present agitation. . . . 

* This is quite true. Cf. Biddle to David Sears, January 5, 1824; Biddle to 
Isaac Lawrence, April 22, 1825; Biddle to Campbell P. White, November 27, 
1827. 



154 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Biddle to Thomas Cadwalader 

PhiK Dec^ 23. 1 83 1 
My dear Sir, 

Your favor announcing your arrival & your second 
giving the result of your first interview are received. I have 
not had yet an opportunity of apprizing our friends S. & C.^ 
of the state of things but shall do so this afternoon. The views 
of M"" M. are sufficiently discouraging, & I shall wait anx- 
iously for the further lights which you will give. 

I inclose a paper of which I have no other copy — which 
therefore you will have the goodness to send back when you 
have no further occasion for it, or to bring it if you come soon. 
It Is an extract from the minutes of the old Bank of the U.S. 
by which you will perceive that as early as the 6'^'^ of Jan^ 1807 
— four years before the expiration of the charter, and when 
it had nearly as long to run as ours has, the stockholders met 
& prepared a memorial which was not however presented until 
the following session of Congress — say 1808 (as this is the 
substance of the extract it is not worth while to send it)* 

* Whence may be argued that If they began so early," we 
involved or provoked as we have been, cannot be reproached 
with a premature movement. I am particularly anxious to 
know the opinion of M'^ M^Duffie in whose judgment in this 
matter I have the highest confidence. 

Biddle to Thomas Cadwalader 

PhiK Dec^ 24. 1 83 1 
Saturday night 
My dear General, 

The mail which should have arrived this morning did 
not reach us till night, so that I have just received your favor 

* Sergeant and Clay. 



From Thomas Cadwalader 155 

of the 22^ inst which is very interesting. On this whole matter 
I have heard much & thought more since you left us. I of 
course abstain from forming any definite opinion, but I will 
mention to you exactly my present state of mind. It is this. 
If M"" M'^Duffie could insure a reference to the Committee of 
Ways & Means, & a favorable report of that Committee, I 
would not hesitate to try it, if I could rely on a majority of 
one only in each house. Once fairly launched by the Com^ 

1 think we could succeed by a larger vote — but this you 
know better than I do. I have not said this to anybody except 
yourself — but all my reflections tend that way. With your 
letter comes a second from M"" Webster renewing with in- 
creased conviction his opinion expressed in the most decided 
manner of the expediency of it. 

Thomas Cadwalader to BmDLE 

Washington Sunday 
25 Dec: 1831 
My dear Sir 

My last letter to you was of Friday — I have yet 
rec"^ no communications from you. Yours of the 23 '^ is just 
brought in & contents noted. This morning was appointed for 
the conference between the Sec^: G^ Smith M"^ M'^Duffie & 
myself, the Secy: is however ill, in bed — & we must await 
his convalescence. 

I have had much talk with M"" Webster (who is now at An- 
napolis) M^ Silbee present. He (W.) seems decidedly for 
starting the memorial if we are sure of a bare majority in the 

2 Houses — & even indeed if we are sure of a majority in H. 
of R. where we of course must begin. He says the Senate 
will not throw out the Bill, if passed below — & he thinks the 



156 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

Pres*. will not reject it — threaten as he may at present, 
entre nous, it is evident that W's opinions are guided, in some 
degree, by party feelings — as seems to be the Case with 
most of the Clay men. I must therefore measure opinions with 
fair allowances, M"" Adams, with whom I have consulted, & 
with whom I shall again confer takes cooler views — & is 
more disposed to look at the question under all its aspects; 
leans towards postponing unless a strong vote can be ascer- 
tained. Having rec"^ the N. York reports this morning, I be- 
lieve I may now sum up our supporters in that delegation at 
14 — three others are marked doubtful. In Maine, from the 
best information I can get we shall have i . vote (Evans) — 
we certainly have all the Mass"^ R. P Conn'': & Vermont — 
in N. York 14 — all for Jersey — 22 from Penns^ besides 
Horn (who next year w'^ vote for B*" with certain restrictions 
— as Dallas tells me) & Mann (perhaps) Delaware i. Mary- 
land 7. Virginia (as polled by Mercer & Archer — Archer 
dead ag* us on constitutional grounds — but polling his Dele- 
gation on honour & after conversing with each member — 
who agree in the result (6, N.Car: as polled by Y"^ Kins- 
man Shephard — (who is jor the B*^) 6 — certain — S.Car: 
2 (M^Duffie & Drayton) Georgia i Kentucky 5 — Ten^^ i. 
(certain) besides Bell who will vote with us ij he can. Ohio 14. 
certain — Louis^3 — certain & Missouri i. certain — giving for 
the Bank 116 — & leaving against it 97. These pollings I have 
gone over with M*^Duffie this morn^ : & he confirms them — 
we look therefore, allowing for absences, to 20. majority — w^ 
he thinks good ground to go upon — supposing the Bill Safe in 
Senate — as to that Body — I ran them over In a former Letter 
— now again, more knowingly. Maine Mass"^ R.!.*^ Connecti- 
cut & Verm*' 2 each — N.Ham, i. certain (making) = 11. 



From Thomas Cadwalader 157 

N.Jersey (taking off Dickerson if now agitated ag': wishes 
of Pres^ certain) — i 

Penns^ (W. & D. both torn with contending calculations 
— but I have reasons to believe they will consider State 
interests as paramount to be explamed when we meet. 

Del = 2 & M"^ I. (Gen'. Smith told me he must desert 
if now pushed — maybe not — but let him pass) (certain) 
3 w"^ vote for B^ thro' thick y thin — N:Car: (Mangum 
told M'^Duffie he w*^ & believes his colleague 
Brown will go with him — but say certain) — I 

Georgia Forsyth our friend — but probably not with us now 
Kentucky i. Ohio & Louis^ 4 — certain 5 

Tens^*' — Grundy in favor — but cannot now go it. 
Mississippi — Pointdexter anti Jackson & believed with us I 
M^Dufhe will ascertain however — Missouri (certain) i 

now believed certain (if Pointdexter is right) — 25 

With us another time — Dickerson — Smith — Forsyth 
& Grundy — perhaps Brown — say 5 = making 29 or 30 on 
another occasion. — Under these circumstances M^Dufhe 
leans in favor of going it now — & so do I — but we think it 
best not to decide till after the Conference with McLane & 
Smith. We have full confidence in M'^L's candour — as to his 
belief that J. will put on his veto — but the old Gent"* may 
shake in his intentions — and, if he return the Bill, he may 
state objections that perhaps may be yielded to by us. 
We sh"^ In fact have hopes of him on a future occasion, if he 
takes any other than the broad ground of the constitution. 
We might be blamed for losing this Session (the long one — 
moreover) & tho' we go counter to the administration men — 
who are interested in postponing, we keep the other party 



158 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

with us — some of whom w'^ be lukewarm, Webster w^ he 
cold,^ or perhaps hostile, if we bend to the Gov* influence. 
I do not yet decide — but incline to suppose that after the 
council at the Treasury, I shall advise the Com^^ to start 
the memorial. I shall not do so however unless M'^Duffie's 
opinion is decidedly that way, for he is our main stay — & 
if we make a blunder I have told him that I shall throw it on 
him. 

All agree that when started, the H. of R. must lead — & 
all say it will not be committed to the Com^^ of W. & M. but 
to a special one — 7. will be the number & of course the 
Speaker will appoint — 4 for & 3 against — so say M^'Duffie 
& all — no danger of his breaking a custom so fixed. Every- 
thing then depends on having the proper man as chair- 
man. M'^Duffie promised to move the Commitment of the 
Memorial — w*" puts him in that position & thus gives us a 
fair chance. 

Thomas Cadwalader to Biddle 

Washington 26 Dec: 1831 
My dear Sir: 

I have your letter of Saturday night — (24*^ ins^) 
and am glad to find the leaning of your mind, as to the ques- 
tion of present action or postponement, to be in the direction 
of my own notions . . . 

In my estimates of votes I counted Findlay of Ohio as for 
us — he is decidedly adverse. We have however Gen' Dun- 
can of Illinois our firm friend — who was considered against 

1 Professor Catterall, in his book on the Second Bank of the United States 
makes the statement, on page 218, that this remark was made in a footnote by 
Cadwalader. However, the above extract shows that it was in the regular context 
of the letter. 



From Thomas Cadwalader 159 

us — & I have reason to hope that several of those marked 
doubtful on my list — will be on our side . . . 

I shall not consult Dallas & Wilkins as to the policy of act- 
ing now — knowing they w'^ incline to postpone — & not 
wishing to ask advice, under strong probabilities of going 
against it. They are now well inclined to help us to votes — 
& Wilkins, tho' always protesting for non-commitment on the 
B'' question, is, as I verily think, more warm in our cause 
than D — being more linked in the great points of State In- 
terest — to w^, as he admits the extinction of the B*^ w^ 
carry a death blow. On tariff & internal improvements he is 
Quixotic — Dallas has a cooler head, if not heart. . . . 

My yesterdays Letter gave my ideas as to the modus ope- 
randi in the H. of R. if now to go on, I am more in doubt 
as to the course in the Senate when the Bill goes up. As to 
Smith, after his confession to me of adhesion to Palace in- 
fluence we must understand with him, in a candid & friendly 
way, that he must hold back, & that some other Champion 
must head our Column — who it ought to be is the question 
- — as to power of talent, we w^ at once designate Webster 
— but the name carries a deadly bearing of party feeling, 
w^ it seems to me w*^ counterbalance the good we might de- 
rive from him in other respects. M^Duffie may perhaps 
enlighten me in the darkness in w^ I confess myself now to 
be enveloped — & I mention the difficulty, now in time, to 
you, for the benefit of your views . . . 

Expect, very shortly after that Conference at the Treasury, 
to receive my opinion as to the policy of now presenting the 
memorials — or waiting for a less stormy occasion. You may 
as well have the papers ready. 



1 6o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Thomas Cadwalader to Biddle 

Washington 26. Dec 1831 
My dear Sir 

Your last letter Is of Saturday night (23 "^ ins'') ans^ 
by me yesterday — Nothing to day from you. 

M"" Peter R. Livingston ^ (Brother of the Sec^: of State, 
in whose House he is living) came to see me last Eve. He is 
strongly of opinion that we ought to start an application now. 
He says his Brother M*^Lane & Cass ^ w"^ prevent the veto 
tho' they are all desirous of saving the Pres^ from the neces- 

^ Peter Livingston was largely instrumental for the election of William H. 
Seward as Governor of New York in 1834. "Livingston had been a wheel horse 
in the party of Jefferson. He had served in the Senate with Van Buren; he had taken 
a leading part in the convention of 1821, and he had held with distinction the 
speakership of the Assembly and the presidency of the Senate. His creed was love 
of republicanism and hatred of Clinton. At one time he was the faithful follower, 
the enthusiastic admirer, almost the devotee of Van Buren; and, so long as the 
Kinderhook statesman opposed Clinton he needed Livingston. But when the time 
came that Van Buren must conciliate Clintonj Livingston was dropped from the 
Senate. The consequences were far more serious than Van Buren intended. Liv- 
ingston was as able as he was eloquent and Van Buren's coalition with Clinton 
quickly turned Livingston's ability and eloquence to the support of Clay. Then 
he openly joined the Whigs." Alexander, De Alva S., A Political History of New 
York (New York, 1909), vol. i, pp. 402, 403. 

2 Lewis Cass did not agree with President Jackson in his attack on the Bank. On 
September 23, 1833, Cass made an appointment with Lewis to discuss the matter 
of the removal of the deposits. " Cass commenced the conversation," wrote Lewis, 
"by remarking that his object in desiring to see me before I left was to inform 
me that he had determined to resign his seat in the cabinet, and wished to con- 
verse with me upon the subject before he handed his letter of resignation to the 
President. He said he differed with the President with regard to the measures 
which were about to be adopted for the removal of the public deposits from the 
United States Bank, and as his remaining in the cabinet might embarrass his 
operations, he owed it, he thought, both to himself and the President to with- 
draw." Lewis urged him to acquaint Jackson. Cass was finally induced to remain 
in the Cabinet, but in a later Cabinet meeting, when asked his opinon on the meas- 
ure, Cass simply and frankly said: "You know, sir, I have always thought that 
the matter rests entirely with the secretary of the treasury." McLaughlin, A. C, 
Lewis Cass (Boston, 1898), pp. 154, 155. 



To Samuel Smith 1 6 1 

sityof acting one way or the other, before the Election — they 
look to Penns^ with great anxiety. M^. Lane calculated in his 
talks with me on half that delegation voting postponement, 
in conformity with the wishes of the administration phalanx. 
Now I do not think they can shake more than four of them, if 
so many — & the more I see of the Senators D. & W. the 
more satisfied am I that the opinions lately expressed as to 
their votes are well founded. They are strongly inclined to 
aid the wishes of the Palace men in dissuading from moving 
the question this Session — but whenever moved they must 
support it. 

M^ Livingston has been, as you know, an active & power- 
ful worker in the politics of N York. He enters zealously into 
this B'^ question — (probably from Party feeling — a Mem- 
ber of the Clay Convention) besides the 14 favorable votes of 
his State on w^ I have before counted, he says he can^ & will, 
bring over some of those marked on my list as doubtful — 
viz: Angel, Babcock, Cooke, Hogan, Lansing, Lent, Pierson, 
Reed & Soule. He is now engaged in that good work & is to 
report the result. When the subject comes up much warmth, 
say indeed violence, is to be expected — & we may find some 
shaking, on whose firmness we now count. I am fully in the 
belief, however, that we shall gain more from those marked 
"uncertain" & now by me counted as adverse, than will 
make up any losses from my present list of yeas. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Samuel Smith 

PhiK Jany 4, 1832 
My dear Sir, 

You will hear, I am afraid with regret, tho' not with 
surprize, that we have determined on applying to the present 



1 6 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

Congress for a renewal of the Charter of the Bank & that a 
memorial for that purpose will be forwarded tomorrow or the 
next day. To this course I have made up my mind after great 
reflection & with the clearest convictions of its propriety. The 
reasons I will briefly explain. I. The Stockholders have de- 
volved upon the Directors the discretion of choosing the time 
of making the application. If we should omit a favorable op- 
portunity we would commit an irreparable error, & would be 
permanently reproached with it by the Stockholders. Now 
these Stockholders are entirely unanimous in their opinions 
and in a case of such grave responsibility their wishes are en- 
titled to great consideration. Unless therefore there should 
be some very strong reason against it, the application should 
be made. 2. Independent however of this, I believe That this 
is the proper time. The Charter will expire in March 1836 — 
Unless the present Congress acts upon it, we must wait 'till 
the Congress of December 1833, & could not expect from 
them any decision before after March 1834 which would bring 
the Bank within two years or 18 months of the expiration of 
its charter. Now whether the institution is to be continued 
or destroyed that time is too short. Until the question is 
settled every thing will be uncertain. No man can look ahead 
in either public or private affairs as to the state of the cur- 
rency & there will be constant anxiety about our whole monied 
system. The Bank too ought to know its fate so as to close 
its affairs without inflicting deep & dangerous wounds upon 
the community by sudden shocks & changes. I believe there- 
fore that this is the best time for settling the question. If the 
Bank is to be continued the country ought to know it soon. 
If the Bank is to be destroyed the Bank & the country ought 
both to know it soon. 



To Samuel Smith 163 

The only objection I have heard to it, is, as far as I under- 
stand, this : that in about a year hence there is to be an elec- 
tion for a President of the U.S. — and if the application is 
now made, the gentleman who is now President will take it 
amiss & negative the bill — while if the Bank will refrain from 
applying until after his election is secured, he will probably 
be permitted to abstain from negativing it. This seems to em- 
brace the whole case — Let us look at it. In the first place 
then, neither I nor any of my associates have any thing what- 
ever to do with the President or his election. I know nothing 
about it & care nothing about it. The Bank has never had any 
concern in elections — it will not have any now. To abstain 
from anything which it would otherwise do, on account of 
an election, is just as bad as doing anything on account of an 
election. Both are equal violations of its neutrality. There are 
many politicians who want to bring it on because it would 
benefit their side. There are many other politicians who 
want to put it off because that would benefit their side. 
Hitherto they have been urged to bring it before the last 
Congress in hopes that it would injure the present incumbent 
— now they are urged to postpone it because postponement 
would benefit him. The Bank cares not whether he is bene- 
fited or injured. It takes its own time & its own way. 

In the next place what appears to me I confess wholly in- 
explicable is why the friends of the present incumbent who 
are also friends of the Bank, if they think the Bank question 
likely to injure the President, do not at once take the question 
out of the hands of their adversaries. If the President's 
friends were to come forward & settle the Bank question 
before the election comes on, they would disarm their antago- 
nists of their most powerful weapon. I am very ignorant of 



164 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

party tactics, & am probably too much biased to be a fit 
judge in this case, but such a course has always seemed to me 
so obvious that I have never been able to comprehend why it 
was not adopted. 

But again what is the reason for supposing that the present 
incumbent will be offended by bringing it forward now? What 
possible right has he to be offended ? What too has he meant 
by all these annual messages — declaring in 1829 that he 
could not "too soon present it" to Congress — repeating the 
same thing in 1830 — and reiterating it in 1831. Was this all 
a mere pretence? that the moment the Bank accepts his own 
invitation he is to be offended by being taken at his word. 

But moreover he is to negative the bill. That is to say, he 
will agree to the bill hereafter, but because he thinks it will 
interfere with his election he will negative it now. Truly this 
is a compliment which I trust he does not deserve from his 
friends, for even I who do not feel the slightest interest in him 
would be sorry to ascribe to a President of the United States 
a course much fitter for a humble demagogue than the Chief 
Magistrate of a great country. He will sign a bill, which of 
course he must think a good one, when his election is over — 
but he will not sign this bill, which he thinks a good one, — if 
it is likely to take votes from him at an election. And after all, 
what security is there that when his election is over, he will 
not negative the bill ? I see none. On the contrary I am satisfied 
that he would be ten times more disposed to negative it then 
than now. Now he has at least some check in public opinion 
— some in the counsels of those around him — then he will 
have neither. And now, my dear Sir, I have tired myself as 
I have certainly you with these opinions which you think very 
erroneous & very disrespectful perhaps to the President. But 



From Louis McLane 165 

I wanted to explain precisely the course of thinking which has 
brought me to my present conclusion. The only regret which 
accompanies it is that it has not the concurrence of M"" 
M*^Lane & yourself to whom the Bank as well as myself per- 
sonally owe much for the manner in which you have both 
sustained the institution. I cannot express to you how much 
I am concerned at not being able to adopt the suggestions of 
M"" M^^Lane who has behaved so handsomely in this matter. 
But we must each in our respective spheres of duty follow 
our own convictions with mutual regret but still with mutual 
respect. 

To you I always looked forward as a friend & advocate of 
the Bank whenever the question of its renewal was agitated. 
I shall be very sorry on many accounts that from a difference 
of opinion in regard to time you will be constrained to with 
hold your aid — but I assure you it will abate none of the 
regard for you — & the fullness of these explanations will I 
hope satisfy you of my anxiety to State to you frankly & 
distinctly the motives which lead me to a conclusion, differing 
I believe for the first time — from Your's on the Subject of 
the Bank. 

Louis McLane to Biddle 

Washington Jan. 5. 1832 
Dear Sir, 

General Cadwallader has returned to Philadelphia, 
and I apprehend with impressions, favorable to an attempt 
to renew the charter of the Bank of the United States at the 
present session of Congress. When he consulted me upon the 
subject soon after his arrival here, I frankly & distinctly dis- 
couraged the attempt and on grounds which I believe well 



1 6 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

entitled to weight. Other Counsels however, and, as I think 
too sanguine expectations of support from Congress, appear 
to have had greater influence: and it has occurred to me as 
proper that I should communicate my opinions directly to you. 

I do not profess to be in a situation to become the adviser 
of the Bank, and I desire to be irresponsible for the future 
decision of the Directors and the stockholders. The position 
I occupy in the Government, however, and that in which the 
late annual report which my sense of public duty constrained 
me to make has placed me in relation to the Bank and may 
possibly place me in relation to any immediate attempt to re- 
new the Charter, make it necessary for me to prevent mis- 
apprehension from any quarter distinctly to state my own 
opinions. This will at least leave me uncommitted for the 
future whatever weight may be given to my views. 

I feel constrained therefore to say that I am decidedly op- 
posed, both on principle and on grounds of expediency, to an 
attempt to renew the Charter of the Bank during the 'present 
Congress. 

The annual report, for the reasons stated in it, recommends 
the renewal of the charter ^^at the proper time," thereby ob- 
viously excluding any premature renewal which should be 
inconsistent with the principle and term of the charter and 
not necessary to the safety of the stockholders, or the inter- 
ests of the debtors and convenience of the community at large. 

The charter of the Bank will not expire until one year 
after the termination of the next Congress : before that period 
Congress has no authority, without the consent of the Stock- 
holders, to alter its provisions; and a law passed in the interim 
can only take effect after the expiration of the present charter. 

Unless it could be shown that all the remaining period of 



From Louis McLane 167 

the charter is necessary to accommodate the business of the 
Bank to the ultimate decision of the Government this would be 
no just pretence for requiring that decision at this time, and 
perhaps no greater motive for doing so than there was during 
the last session. To me there appears to be no such necessity; 
and it does not follow that those friendly to the institution 
could be expected to make their final decision at this time. 

In the case of such a Corporation as that of the Bank of 
the United States the Government is entitled to so much of 
the term of the Charter for the benefit of full experience and 
of amply taking the good management of the corporation, as 
may be consistent with the public interest. Independently of 
this right a subject on which there is so great a diversity in 
public opinion, involving so many important interests of all 
classes of the community, and which has already attracted a 
large portion of public attention should not be disposed of 
without again affording an opportunity of a distinct expres- 
sion of the will of the people. The present Congress has not 
been chosen with any direct reference to this question, and 
there are no constitutional means of ascertaining the sense of 
the people before the elections preparatory to the 23 d. Con- 
gress. Favorable as I am to the continuance of the Bank, if I 
could be persuaded that a decided majority of the people of 
the United States were certainly opposed to re-chartering it 
as at present organized, I could not consent, with the prin- 
ciple of Government which I hold, to forestall, by any pre- 
mature action, the force of public sentiment, or to exclude 
the advantage of other counsels with a fuller knowledge of 
the subject. 

It must be obvious that both the interests of the present 
Banks and the general expediency of such an institution re- 



1 68 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

quire that the consideration of the subject should be separate 
from party questions, with which it has properly no concern; 
and it is equally clear that In the present state of political 
parties, whatever may be the motive of the friends of the 
Bank, it must undoubtedly be mixed up with topics alto- 
gether unfavorable to a dispassionate judgement. 

It is not unreasonable to infer that these considerations will 
have their weight with the members of the present Congress; 
who will see nothing in a refusal to legislate at present incon- 
sistent with the maintenance of their own views under more 
favorable circumstances. 

I have no right, nor do I profess in any manner, to speak 
for the President; his opinions are before the Country In his 
ofhcial messages In each of which he has invited the People of 
the United States to an investigation of the subject. But In- 
dependently of the views he has heretofore avowed, and how- 
ever they might be ultimately affected by a deliberate ex- 
pression of the will of a decided majority of the People of the 
U.S. it would be unreasonable to expect that he could now 
consent finally to foreclose the investigation which he him- 
self has invited, before the public sense has been constitu- 
tionally declared ascertained. 

For myself I must say that holding the principles I do and 
have here expressed, as one of the constitutional advisers of 
the President I could not consistently interpose an objection 
to the exercise of his negative upon a bill rechartering the 
Bank during the present Congress, unless presented to him 
as one of and in connection with a series of measures for ad- 
justing, upon principles of compromise, all the great interests 
of the Country. 

I deem it unnecessary to repeat my opinion of the expedi- 



From yohn Connell 169 

ency or necessity of a National Bank on the grounds and for 
the purposes I have heretofore publicly stated, but I will not 
disguise the solicitude I feel lest any premature attempts to 
re-charter the present Bank by exposing it to the influence of 
party feeling and prejudice, should hereafter encourage the 
preference to an entirely new institution.^ 

Daniel Webster to Biddle 

W.Jan. 8. (1832?) 
My Dear Sir 

I cannot but think you have done exactly right. What- 
ever may be the result, it seems to me the path of duty is 
plain. In my opinion, a failure, this session, if there should be 
one, will not at all diminish the chances of success, next session. 
I suppose the memorial will make its appearance, in the 
Senate, thro the V.P. My notion will be to let the adminis- 
tration Gentlemen take the Disposition of it, for the pres- 
ent, & see what they will do with it. 

John Connell ^ to BmoLE 

{Private) Washington lo Jan^ 1832 

My dear Sir 

. . . Mr Adams ^ told me, that if you had not peti- 
tioned, as you did, that it had been his intention to have 

* This letter shows that Biddle 's view of political theory was that formerly 
advanced by Alexander Hamilton; while McLane, in the above letter, is advancing 
the Jeffersonian theory. It was largely owing to the fact that the nation — espe- 
cially the West — at this time held to the Jacksonian theory of the sovereignty of 
the people (a natural outgrowth of the Jeffersonian ideas) that Biddle later en- 
countered the hostility of the populace — beyond the natural antipathy of the 
Westerner to banks and banking in general. 

2 A director of the Bank of the United States in 1838. Cf. Report of Com- 
mittee of Investigation, 1841, p. 64. 

* Cf. John Quincy Adams Memoirs (Philadelphia, 1876), vol. viii, p. 457. 



1 7 o Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

offered a Resolution, instructing the Committee of Ways & 
Means to report a Bill, renewing the charter of the Bank; 
and this, he probably would have done the present week, 
for substantial reasons which he assigned, founded altogether 
upon great public considerations. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Gardiner Greene ^ Esq. 

{private) ■ Phil Jan 16^'' 1832 

My Dear Sir 

The Bank having after great consideration presented 
a memorial for the renewal of the charter, the citizens of 
Philad are forwarding petitions on the subject of a similar 
measure [which] will be transmitted by the State Banks. It 
would be greatly desirable to have the same thing done else- 
where. I have written to-day to our friend Col. Perkins & I wish 
you & our other friends would endeavour to have a strong & 
general expression of the sense of your community so that Con- 
gress may be apprized of the real sentiments of the country. 

BiDDLE TO Horace Binney^ 

Phil Jan 25^^ 1832 
My dear sir 

In regard to the bonus for a renewal of the Charter my 
views are these — 

As the bonus is in fact only another name for a tax, and 
like all other taxes disables the Bank to the extent of it from 

1 Alleged to be the wealthiest citizen of Boston. Winsor, Justin (editor), 
Memorial History of Boston (Boston, 1883), vol. iv, pp. 29, 30. 

2 A distinguished lawyer, the son of Dr. Barnabas Binney, a surgeon in the 
Revolutionary War. Binney first became acquainted with Biddle at the meetings 
of the Tuesday Club, a literary society organized by Dennie in Philadelphia. 
Binney and Webster were the legal advisers of the Bank. Cf. Oberholtzer, E. P., 
Philadelphia, A History of the City and its People, vol. I, p. 413. 



From Charles yared IngersoU 1 7 1 

giving facilities to the community, a Bonus should not be 
pressed by Gov' beyond a very moderate limit, particularly 
as the Gov*^ is now very rich instead of being needy as it was 
at the time of granting the Charter. 

But if the Bank must pay, I do not think it ought to pay 
more than the sum of ^1,500,000: nevertheless it would not 
be proper to decline the charter because more was asked & I 
should be disposed to go as high as two millions or if neces- 
sary three; between this last limit & the original sum of a 
million & a half lies the debateable ground. I think you might 
at once agree to any sum not exceeding three millions. If 
more were required or more were Insisted upon during the 
passage of the Bill through the House it would be a subject 
of further reference to the Board. To the extent I have men- 
tioned, I am sure there would be no difficulty. 

Charles Jared Ingersoll ^ to Biddle 

Washington Feby 2. 1832 
Dear Sir, 

I saw the President for the first time yesterday — 
introduced by M"" Livingston who kindly volunteered his 
carriage and personal attendance for the purpose. Thus aus- 
picated my reception was extremely gracious and flattering. 
There was a great deal of free and general conversation of 
which the topics were the French treaty, the Mexican treaty, 
the tariff, M"" Van Buren's rejection and his pending negocla- 
tion, M*" Clay, and Governor Hamilton of South Carolina. 
I feel satisfied that from the beginning by gradual and proper 
advances I may eventually and a propos bring about a tete- 

^ At this time a strong advocate of the Bank. Later, however, Ingersoll turned 
against the institution when Biddle urged open war against Jackson. Cf. Meigs, 
W. M., The Life of Charles Jared Ingersoll (Philadelphia, 1897), pp. 167-185. 



172 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

a-tete communication on the bank, to which end my future 
intercourse in that quarter shall be directed. I understand 
from Dickins with whom I had some confidential chat and 
shall repeat it frequently that General Jackson's antipathy 
is not to the Bank of the United States in particular, but to 
all Banks whatever. He considers all the State Banks uncon- 
stitutional and impolitic and thinks that there should be no 
Currency but coin, that the Constitution [was not] designed 
to compel paper altogether as any part of our monetary sys- 
tem. This view of his doctrine conforms to a report which you 
shewed me not long ago made by him — to the Legislature of 
Tennessee;^ it coincides with some similar notions that I have 
long indulged myself, and at any rate to be apprised of the 
theory of his sentiments will be useful to me as it supplies 
a platform on which to approach him. If his prejudices are 
honest they may fairly be dealt with. Louis Williams ^ of 
North Carolina says that all his opposition to the Bank of the 
United States was fomented if not created by Van Buren 
who calculated that he could render his ascendancy in New 
York subservient to the prejudices of Virginia, and that 
Pennsylvania would acquiesce, which three States thus united 
would give him a broad basis for the future Presidency. . . . 

BmoLE TO Horace Binney 

Phil^ Feby 6'^ 1832 
My dear Sir 

It strikes me that the resolutions of our legislature will 
place M^ Dallas in an attitude equally new, and imposing ; 

1 Jackson was the author of the Tennessee law of 1820 creating a loan office. 
Cf. Bassett, J. S., Andrew Jackson, p. 592; Sumner, W. G., Andrew Jackson, pp. 
158, 159 (3d edition). 

^ Representative from North Carolina. 



"To Horace Binney 173 

offering an opportunity of distinction, which a young states- 
man could scarcely hope for in his dreams, & which the oldest 
statesman might pass a whole life without encountering. It 
seems to me, his position is precisely this — He wishes to 
be the Pennsylvania candidate for the Vice Presidency and 
then 

"Glamis — and thane of Cawdor 

"the greatest is believed." 

The Pennsylvanians are disposed to assist him and to exclude 
M^ V Buren. To promote this M^ Dallas should identify 
himself with all the Pennsylvania interests, more especially 
those interests to which M^ Van Buren is supposed to be 
hostile. He should therefore go immediately to the President 
with these resolutions of Penn. ^ in his hand — he should 
warn him against irritating our State, especially as the of- 
fence to her is wholly gratuitous. He should say to him you 
are not opposed to this bank essentially; you mean to agree 
to it with certain modifications. Now let me mediate between 
you and the Bank; let us agree on the modifications; the Bank 
will consent to them, and I will report them, the rechartering 
of the Bank will thus become a measure of yours — you will 
gratify Penn^. — you will take from your adversaries their 
most formidable weapon, and secure the ascendancy of your 
friends. If the President will do this his success is certain, if 
M''. Dallas will do this, besides sustaining his father's work, 
& conferring a great blessing on the Country, he will assure 
to himself distinguished consideration through the nation. 

1 These resolutions carried under the able leadership of Ingersoll, who de- 
clared "that the constitution of the United States authorizes and near half a cen- 
tury's experience sanctions, a Bank of the United States as necessary and proper 
to regulate the value of money and prevent paper currency of unequal and de- 
preciated value." 



174 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

I do not know how he is disposed for such an enterprize, but 
he ought to give ten years of his life for this chance of attain- 
ing it. Tell him so, and if in half an hour afterwards he is not 
on his way to the Presidents, — why then — the stars have 
conjoined for him in vain. 

BiDDLE TO Charles Jared Ingersoll 

Philad^ Feb^ 6. 1832 
My dear Sir 

It occurs to me that the present is a crisis for Gen'. 
Jackson, & for the Bank. The Penn^ delegation, and emi- 
nently Mr Dallas, now have an opportunity of doing great 
good; and of acquiring great distinction. Let them go for- 
ward, and mediate between the President and the Bank, 
— make him name his modifications; make the Bank agree 
to them, make the re-charter an administration measure. 
You see at a glance all this. Do put them up to it; make 
M^ Livingston and M''. M^Lane stir in it. It is a real coup 
d'etat. Try if you cannot bring it about, without loss of 
time. 

Charles Jared Ingersoll to BmDLE 

Washington. Thursday evening 
9 February 1832 
Dear Sir, 

An article signed Tulpe Hocken destined to appear in 
the Sentinel, and another signed incognito sent to the En- 
quirer of Philadelphia, each adapted to the various tastes of 
the readers of those different papers, the first designed to cor- 
roborate the spirit of Pennsylvania, the second to inculcate a 
beleif that the President has no constitutional objections to 



From Charles yared Ingersoll 175 

the Bank, but that the Vice President and his adherents are 
opposed to it, will serve to shew you that I have been paving 
the way for just such a coup d'etat as your letter of the 6*^^ 
received to day suggests and after [having] well digested 
my project I went to the Department of State yesterday to 
break ground : But M"" Livingston was with the President and 
I was obliged to defer the overture till to day, which I am not 
sorry for, as your letter come to hand in the mean time has 
confirmed my views and shaped them with precision. I now 
proceed with much satisfaction to report to you substantially 
what took place. When I saw M"" Livingston, as I did this 
morning soon after the receipt of your letter, I told him that 
I wished to speak freely with him respecting an Important 
measure which he had often mentioned with great apparent 
freedom to me, assuring him that he might rely implicitly on 
my confidence and my disposition to render a service to Gen- 
eral Jackson's administration consistent with what I deemed 
the welfare of the country: I then explained to him the state 
of parties in Pennsylvania, that the confidence of the people 
in General Jackson is undiminished as is well known to the 
adherents of Governor Wolf, but that they have the whole 
party organization of the State in their hands, and while they 
dare not openly oppose General Jackson's re-election, yet 
that many If not most of them are Inclined to be in op- 
position to him. I repeated all the circumstances of the 
publication by the Philadelphia members of the Legislature 
last spring in answer to the charge of bribery ^ which was 

* C. J. Ingersoll early in 1831 introduced certain resolutions, with the knowl- 
edge and consent of Biddle, in favor of the Bank. These resolutions were passed 
by a decisive majority, having at one stage met with serious repulse, and after 
having had a clause added in favor of distribution of the surplus revenue among 
the States, which Ingersoll voted against. Soon after the iVew Hampshire Patriot 



176 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

intended to strike at the President, and would have done so 
much more forcibly than it did, but for the mitigation of some 
of whom I was one, and I added that the resent attempt to 
get up a Van Buren party in Pennsylvania had been a com- 
plete failure. I then mentioned the recent almost unanimous 
resolutions of the present Legislature sustaining those of the 
last in favor of the bank of the U S and said that he might de- 
pend upon it, therefore, that collision between the State and 
the President would be a dangerous & unfortunate occurrence 
for the latter for which surely said I there is not the least 
occasion, for why should he risk any portion of his popularity 
against an object entirely disconnected with politics, and so 
purely fiscal that if the Secretary of the Treasury were to tell 
the President that he found a frying pan the most convenient 
means of managing the finances, I should suppose the Presi- 
dent would agree to it, especially as I understood he has no 
constitutional scruples. After more of these preliminaries than 
I can altogether repeat, I asked M"" Livingston if under these 
circumstances it would not be the simplest resolution of all 
the supposed difficulties to take the Bank out of the hands of 
M"" M^Duffie and the opposition, modifying its charter so as 
to suit it to the President's opinion and passing it as a meas- 
ure of the Administration, M"" M'^Lane taking the place which 
M*" Dallas occupied and General Jackson the example of M'' 
Madison in ['] 15-16 when the Bank was created. I further 
more offered to see M' Dallas, expressing my confidence that 
he would cordially cooperate in such a movement. Finally, I 

charged and the Washington Globe reprinted the charge of bribery. To this Inger- 
soll and other members of the legislature from Philadelphia and its vicinity has- 
tened to publish an indignant denial. This was dated May i8, 1831, and first ap- 
peared in the American Sentinel of Philadelphia and was widely copied. Meigs, 
Ingersoll, pp. 167-185. 



From Charles yared Ingersoll 1 7 7 

told M"" Livingston all that General Smith had told me as 
to the wish of the President's immediate advisors, that the 
Bank question should be put by this Session. M*" Livingston 
rec'^. my communication with the utmost apparent cordiality, 
acknowledged the force of the argument and said the pro- 
posed mode of proceeding was exactly that one which he 
thought ought to be pursued. I then inquired if the Presi- 
dent would oppose the Bank on the ground of its unconsti- 
tutionality; he answered that he would not, but that he had 
certain notions of his own as to the frame of the charter which 
ought to be complied with. Let his friends frame it as they 
will, said I, provided their alterations are not destructive of 
the Institution. What are they.^ First that it should hold 
no real estate but what is indespensably necessary. Granted, 
there is no harm in that. Secondly, that the State should not 
be prevented taxing It. Thirdly, some addition to the Capi- 
tal so as to let In new subscribers, and Lastly there is another 
provision, which he could not call to mind; very well, said 
I, I have no authority to remould the charter. I interpose only 
as the friend of M'' BIddle of the Bank, and the Administra- 
tion, but I have no doubt that any reasonable modifications 
will be acquiesced In, only take the subject out of the hands of 
the President's opponents and let It be brought before Con- 
gress in such a shape that his friends may support it, and I 
offered to call upon M*" Dallas forthwith. M"" Livingston de- 
sired me to defer doing so for a few days promising In the 
mean while to have a full understanding with the President 
— he said he knew there were some who wanted him to veto 
it, and that he does not know what are the present sentiments 
of the Secretary of the Treasury whose official situation puts 
it out of his power to be passive or neutral as General Smith 



178 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

had said he designed to be. For himself M"" Livingston ac- 
knowledged that the President's various messages invited 
the immediate action of Congress upon the subject. I told 
him that as I had no object in view but the public good which 
I considered identified with the re-charter, I had no objec- 
tion whatever to wait on the Secretary of the Treasury, or the 
President and speak to them in the same tone of candour and 
earnestness that I had used in communicating with him. 
M"" Livingston replied that the President would hear me with 
perfect attention & thankfulness and we agreed that at a 
proper time I should call upon him. In the mean while M"" 
Livingston will take the earliest opportunity of a full explana- 
tion with him, which he probably could not accomplish today 
because there is a large diplomatic dinner at the President's 
but he will try tomorrow. . . . 

Biddle to George McDuffie 

Philad^ Feby. 10. 1832 
My dear Sir 

... I cannot doubt, whatever may be the result, that 
we have done well in applying at the present session. When 
we were first warned against it lest it should affect the inter- 
ests of one of the candidates for the Presidency, such a course 
seemed so entirely foreign to the duties of the Bank that 
we could not acquiesce in it for a moment. At a later period 
when we were counselled to abandon it, lest the influence 
of that candidate should crush the institution; that course 
seemed equally inadmissable, and we determined, that hav- 
ing begun, we would go through at all hazards; and that 
it was better even to be defeated in a fair field than to re- 
treat. Into that field you have now probably led us; and on 



To Charles yared Ingersoll 179 

you much of the fate of the institution will depend. I have 
often heard the contemporaries of M' Calhoun, in the Con- 
gress of 1 8 16, speak with admiration of the talent, and tact, 
the gentleness and the firmness with which he carried the 
present Charter through the H of Reps, and we rely that 
the union of the same qualities will enable you to be equally 
successful now. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Charles Jared Ingersoll 

PhIK Feby. ii. 1832 
My dear Sir, 

. , . Here am I, who have taken a fancy to this Bank 
& having built it up with infinite care am striving to keep it 
from being destroyed to the infinite wrong as I most sin- 
cerely & conscientiously believe of the whole country. To me 
all other considerations are insignificant — I mean to stand by 
it & defend it with all the small faculties which Providence 
has assigned to me. I care for no party in politics or religion 
— have no sympathy with M*^ Jackson or M"" Clay or M"" 
Wirt ^ or M"" Calhoun or M'' Ellmaker ^ or M"^ Van Buren. 
I am for the Bank & the Bank alone. Well then, here comes 
M*" Jackson who takes It Into his head to declare that the Bank 
had failed & that it ought to be superceded by some ricketty 
machinery of his own contrivance. Mr Jackson being the 
President of the U.S. whose situation might make his igno- 
rance mischeivous, we set to work to disenchant the country 
of their foolery & we have so well succeeded that I will ven- 
ture to say that there is no man, no woman, & no child in the 

1 William Wirt of Maryland, Attorney-General under Monroe and presi- 
dential candidate on the Anti-Masonic ticket of 1832. 

2 Amos Ellmaker, Vice-Presidential candidate on the Anti-Masonic ticket of 
1832. 



i8o Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

U.S. who does not understand that the worthy President was 
In a great error. . . } 

It remains to see how its evil consequences may be averted. 
It seems to me there is no one course by which his friends may 
extricate him not merely safely but triumphantly. He has 
made the Bank a Power. He has made the Bank a deciding 
question as to his own selection. Now let him turn this power 
to his own advantage. As yet the Bank is entirely uncom- 
mitted — the Bank is neither for him nor against him. In 
this state let his friends come forward boldly, & taking the 
Bank out of the hands of their enemies, conciliate back the 
honest friends whom their rashness has ahenated, and who 
think that the only difficulty which he has yet to overcome 
is the dread of their internal convulsion to which the pros- 
tration of the Bank will lead. The most extraordinary part 
of the whole matter is that the President & the Bank do not 
disagree in the least about the modifications he desires. He 
wishes some changes — The Bank agrees to them — and yet 
from some punctilio which is positively purile his rash friends 
wish him to postpone it. Do they not perceive that his ene- 
mies are most anxious to place him in opposition to the Bank ? 
And should not every motive of prudence induce him to dis- 
appoint their calculations \ The true & obvious theory seems 
to me to disarm the antagonists of their strongest weapon — ■ 
to assume credit for settling this question for the adminis- 
tration. If the present measure fails, it carries bitterness into 
the ranks of the best part of the opposition. If it succeeds 
without the administration It displays their weakness. If the 
bill passes & the President negatives It, I will not say that It 

1 This paragraph is crossed out in the original. It might be noted that this 
part of the letter is stronger in its tone than the remainder. 



71? Charles yared Ingersoll 1 8 1 

will destroy him — but I certainly think it will & moreover 
I think it ought to. I can imagine no question which seems 
more exclusively for the representatives of the people than 
the manner in which they choose to keep & to manage the 
money of the people. 

... I suppose the President has been made to believe that 
the Bank is busy in hostility to him — you know how wholly 
unfounded this is. For myself I do not care a straw for him 
or his rivals — I covet neither his man servant — nor even 
his maid servant, his ox nor any of his asses. Long may he live 
to enjoy all possible blessings, but if he means to wage war 
upon the Bank — if he pursues us till we turn & stand at 
bay, why then — he may perhaps awaken a spirit which has 
hitherto been checked & reined in — and which it is wisest 
not to force into offensive defence. 

Ponder over these things — and believe me 

BiDDLE TO Charles Jared Ingersoll, Esqr. 

PhiK Feby. 13. 1832. 
My dear Sir 

. . . Here is the Bank which most assuredly has been 
in its proper sphere, perfectly true, and faithful, to the ad- 
ministration; and which has never suffered itself, even while 
it believed itself very unkindly treated, to be betrayed into 
the slightest departure from its duty to the Gov\ All the 
members of the Gov^ can bear witness to this. The President 
himself has no hostile feeling towards the Bank, he is dis- 
posed to agree to its renewal with certain modifications, and 
the Bank is disposed to accept these modifications. And yet 
with no real difference between them, they are now playing 
into the hands of his enemies, who desire nothing better than 



1 8 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

to see us at variance. This certainly cannot be right. Is it not 
wiser for the Presidents friends to disarm at once his antag- 
onists, of their strongest weapon, to settle the question at 
once; and thus unite all the Presi friends before the next 
election 1 This seems so clear, and obvious, that I am aston- 
ished that his friends do not immediately take the matter into 
their own hands, and settle it their own way. 

Now what should prevent this reconciliation? If the Presi- 
dent is restrained from making any advances, I have no such 
feeling, & I will make them myself. You know that I care 
nothing about the election. I care only for the interests con- 
fided to my care, and so far from having the least ill will 
toward the President, so far from wishing to embarrass his 
administration, I will do every thing consistent with my 
duty, to relieve it from trouble, and will go nine tenths of 
the way to meet him in conciliation. This is very easy. The 
whole can be settled in five minutes. 

For instance, the President wishes some modifications in 
the charter. Well, let him take the charter and make any 
changes he likes, let him write the whole charter with his 
own hands, I am sure that we would agree to his modi- 
fications; and then let him and his friends pass it. It will 
then be his work. He will then disarm his adversaries, he 
will gratify his friends, and remove one of the most un- 
comfortable and vexatious public questions that can be 
stirred. 

Now why could not this be.? The moment is propitious and 
if done soon it will be done triumphantly. Do think of all 
these things, & if as a friend of the President, as well as of the 
Bank, you can accomplish this work of peaceful mediation, 
you will relieve both parties from an apparent misunder- 



From Charles yared Ingersoll 1 8 3 

standing, you will confer a real benefit upon the country & 
especially gratify, 
Yours with great regard 

Charles Jared Ingersoll to Biddle 

Washington 21 Feb 32 
Dear Sir 

Thus stands the cabinet — The Secretary of State 
with us with all his heart & all his head, anxious to be the 
author of the President's conversion, who, he says, ought to 
be fixed if any thing can fix him by Tibbit's Scheme. M''. L. 
is confident of succeeding, but has done nothing since my 
last, not having had an opportunity of bringing the subject 
before all the members of the cabinet together, not, in the 
first instance, in form, nor till after he has secured a major- 
ity of them — he says he is constantly and hard at work for 
us; but the bad weather and other Interruptions have put 
him back, but he promises every thing The Secretary of the 
Treasury ^ with us, but so variable in his moods, so much 
cooler at times than at others that M^ L. says he is at a loss 
what to think of him, after said M'. L. — all the pains I have 
taken with him. 

The Secretary of War ^ with us entirely 

Tlie Secretary of the Navy ^ with us 

The Atty Gen' ■* against us — but M"". L. hopes to con- 
vert him — I found him just now closetted with Kendall, of 
whom and Lewis I do not despair. My good understanding 
with the Editor of the Globe is well settled. The Bank has 
not a warmer or more active friend than Judge Wilkins. 

^ Louis McLane of Delaware. ^ Lewis Cass of Ohio. 

' Levi Woodbury of New Hampshire. ^ Roger B. Taney of Maryland. 



1 84 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

M"". Livingston agrees with me as to the mollesse of his col- 
league. I expect to see you this week. In haste 

The scheme of some of them, said M'. L. is a bank of the 
US in each State, but that I consider impossible. 

The more schemes and places the better. 

Charles Jared Ingersoll to BmDLE 

Washington 23 Febr^ 1832 
Dear Sir 

... It is my fortune to have other subjects of confi- 
dential liaison with M^ L. which operate favorably as induce- 
ment to similar understanding respecting the bank. After 
arranging those subjects yesterday at his house where I saw 
him, when I was about leaving his study without mentioning 
the bank — for he had told me the day before that it would 
require some days, and I am very cautious not to torment 
him with it — he himself introduced it by saying, I suppose 
you'll see Biddle at Philadelphia and let him know how mat- 
ters are as to the bank. No doubt, said I. Well then, contin- 
ued he, I wish you would ascertain from him whether the 
bank will agree to the President's views of the terms for a 
new charter, and he proceeded to recapitulate them. As my 
memory might fail me in some particulars, said I, suppose I 
make a written note of them. Very well, he rejoined — and 
accordingly I sat down at his desk, made the enclosed min- 
ute, with his assistance, read it to him when done — and we 
parted on the footing of his unreserved declaration of his 
desire that I would submit them for your approbation or 
otherwise, as may be. Tho' I send the original protocol — as 
it may be called, which I have dated and signed that you may 
keep it in Rei Vei testimonium — yet I proceed to rewrite 



To Charles yared Ingersoll 1 8 5 

the items, as the memorandum made yesterday is not per- 
fectly plain from the hurry of writing it. 

1. Government to have no interest in the bank. 

2. President of the U S empowered to appoint a Director at 
each branch so that government may be represented at each. 

3. States authorized to tax the property both real & per- 
sonal of the bank within the said States in like manner as 
the States may tax other property within them. 

4. The bank to hold no real Estate but such as it may be 
constrained to take In payment or security of its debts, and 
to be compelled by law to sell that within stated time. 

The foregoing I understand from M^ L. are the President's 
terms. 

5. A certain proportion of the stock or capital to be thrown 
open to new subscriptions, which may be done by prorata re- 
duction of the present capital, or by addition to it. 

This — 5 — is not the President's requirement: but M^ 
M^ L. seems to be very tenacious of it, always urging that it 
will facilitate very much the recharter. 

6. The Directors to nominate annually two or three per- 
sons of whom the President to appoint any one as President 
of the bank. 

This — 6 — neither the President nor M". L. like. It is 
the suggestion of others — he said. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Charles Jared Ingersoll 

Phil^ Feby. 25^^ 1832. 
My dear Sir 

You are the Coryphaeus of Ambassadors. Talk not 
to me of Talleyrand or Luchhesini,^ or' even the great 

1 A distinguished diplomat of Frederick the Great. "His commanding 



1 86 Correspondence of Nicholas Eiddle 

magician of New York. Your letter of the 23^. inst has given 
me great pleasure & I have answered it in a tone which I 
think will smooth all difficulties. If it pleases, the next thing 
is to obtain some overt act, some decisive committal — for 
the extreme mobility of the principal person in our drama, 
makes me anxious to see him fixed — irretrievably com- 
mitted. What is specially to be desired is, that he should with 
his friends, announce decidedly a suspension of hostilities, & 
then a firm & durable peace. This will give an impulse to 
their friends in Congress who may thus unite in promoting 
the object. Here again I rely on your judgment & skill so con- 
spicuously displayed hitherto. 

While I am writing your son has called & shown me your 
letter to him, of which due notice has been taken. . . . 

BmDLE TO Charles Jared Ingersoll, Esq. 

Philad^ iG-^ Feby. 1832. 
My dear Sir 

I yesterday wrote a hasty letter explaining my views 
in regard to the modifications suggested of the Charter of the 
Bank. In addition to what was then said of the disposition 
of the Bank, to acquiesce in any modification which may 
protect the rights of the States from any encroachment 
by the Bank I will now add that if the President wishes to 
stipulate that no new Branch shall be established without 

demeanour and vivacity of speech, added to great powers of work, and acuteness 
in detecting the foibles of others, made him a formidable opponent. Further, his 
marriage with the sister of Bischoffswerder, until lately the King's favourite ad- 
viser, added to his influence, which, as was natural with a foreigner, inclined 
toward the attractive and gainful course. Long afterwards the saviour of Prussia, 
Baron von Stein, classed him among the narrow, selfish, insincere men who had 
been the ruin of nations." Cf. Rose, J. H., William Pitt and the Great War (Lon- 
don, 1912), p. 203; also cf. Seeley, Stein, vol. i, p. 65. 



From Charles yared Inge r soil 1 8 7 

the assent of the State In which It is proposed to locate it, 
I think there would be no objection to it on the part of the 
Bank 

In truth I believe there is no change desired by the Presi- 
dent which would not be immediately assented to by the 
Bank. And this It is which gives me so much regret, to find 
the President & the Bank apparently estranged while there 
Is really no difference between them, and to see the Presidents 
friends lose the present opportunity of settling the question 
so well, & so advantageously for him. 

Charles Jared Ingersoll to Biddle 

Washington I Mch 32 
Dear Sir 

... In handling your letter to M"" Livingston yester- 
day I made good use of the crisis which the annoying resolu- 
tion occasions. He assures me, and you may rely, that the 
President has nothing to do with It, nor with Root's resolu- 
tions.^ Not at all, said M"". L. He wishes to end the business 
this Session. If such a bill goes to him as he can sign he will 
sign It without hesitation. If not, he will be equally prompt 
to reject It. Thus we have the mind of the President without 
doubt, if M^ L's word Is to be taken, of which I have not a 
particle of misgiving and I feel confident that his is the pre- 
dominating Influence. When I told him so, he said certainly 
the President knows that he seeks nothing, not even to be 
where he Is, and can have no motive but the honor of the 
admin — . . . 

* Introduced in the House of Representatives as an amendment to Clayton's 
resolution. Rejected in the House March 8, 1832, by a vote of 88 ayes to 92 nays. 
Cong. Debates, vol. viii, pt. 11, pp. 1888, 2087. 



1 8 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Charles Jared Ingersoll to Biddle 

Washington 6 Mch 32 
Dear Sir 

... I think I have gathered a motive for M^ M*^Duf- 
fie's ^ almost unaccountable capitulation : if so there was 
more method than madness in it. The Speaker informs me 
that M^D told him that he did not mean nor wish to let the 
bank be discussed before the Tariff. Hence his yielding to an 
inquiry which will just occupy In his reckoning the few weeks 
to elapse before the Tariff becomes the topic. This being so, 
or at any rate, I have another plan to counteract him: that 
is, soon after the bank has invited investigation, as I expect 
it to do tomorrow, and a committee is appointed accordingly, 
to get the subject taken up In Senate and a bill sent to the 
h of R If possible before the Tariff is before them. I had an 
Interesting conversation yesterday with M*". Livingston on 
this subject. What do you think of a plan, said I, by which 
Pennsylvania shall yield something of the tariff to the well 
disposed and moderate of Virginia and the Carollnas in equiv- 
alent for their uniting with her in support of such a modi- 
fied bank as the President approves and thus firmly securing 
tariff bank and union altogether.? I like It very much said he. 
But can you accomplish It since M^Duffie has given way to 
the enquiry.? I do not consider that, said I, indespensible. There 
is a very strong spirit In Pennsylvania for the bank, I mean 
in the delegation, and they do not Intend to let M^ M'^Duffie 
surrender their desire for his views. I am sensible, said he, 

' Refers to McDuffie allowing the Clayton Resolution of investigation to 
pass. Ingersoll and the other Biddle constituents were thoroughly aroused by Mc- 
Duffie 's capitulation. Adams declared he was "either a coward or a traitor "; while 
Ingersoll "thought it was want of nerve and coolness." 



From Charles yared Inge r soil 1 8 9 

that your delegation Is very much bent on the bank. . . . 
What do you think, said I, of my prevailing on M^ Madison to 
appear before the public recommending such a compromise? 
I believe I c** get him to do it. Very well, said he: or, I con- 
tinued, shall it begin at some primary assembly in Penn- 
sylvania 1 The difficulty now, after all I have understood from 
you, is not with the Executive, but with Congress. Yes, said 
he, this unlucky resolution of inquiry; but for that I think 
there would be no difficulty. The President would sign such 
a bill as you and I have arranged. I have never heard him 
say so. But I have good reason to rely on it. (I think those 
were his very words.) 

Thus, you perceive, that McDuffie and Clayton agreeing 
In opposition to the Tariff, and that the Tariff Is the first 
consideration, have, no doubt without concert, contrived 
between the resolution of the one and the concession of the 
other to postpone the bank lest It should by Its combinations 
of votes interfere with their primary object and this sus- 
pends all the inclining of the President to give way to what 
he is I am persuaded more alarmingly satisfied Is the set- 
tled determination of that State without whose hearty good 
will his Stan dets.^ Such Is the state of things we have to 
deal with. If a Pennsylvanlan capable of taking the lead 
would now do so on the footing of accommodating the Presi- 
dent and the South by some modification (which can be well 
afforded) of the Tariff In return for most of them (for I do not 
expect all) yielding their objections to a modified bank, it 
would be that Pennsylvanlans certain road to honor, influ- 
ence and office. I mean to sound Wllklns about it this very 
day. I shall probably meet him at the Atty Genl'^ dinner or 

^ Illegible in the original. 



190 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

at Serverius ball, and I will make it a point to set the induce- 
ment before him. If, as I presume, Dallas was yesterday- 
nominated at Harrisburg, it leaves W. no better if other 
chance of promotion. He has already intimated in the Senate 
his desire to compromise the Tariff and I know from M^ 
Livingstons frequent urgency to me that such a movement 
would win Jackson's heart. . . . 

BiDDLE TO John G. Watmough * 

PhiK May 11. 1832 
10. o'clock 
My dear Sir 

. . . On the subject of printing & printers I have no 
difficulty & no reserve as you may have seen in the course 
of the enquiry. The press is the channel of communication 
between the Bank & the Country, and I have no more diffi- 
culty about remunerating privately for the work done on 
account of the Bank, than I would for paying the passage of 
the clerks of the Bank, in a steam boat or a stage when they 
were travelling on the business of the Bank. Why should we? 
If the grocer at the corner wishes to apprize the Community 
that he has some fresh figs, he is obliged to pay the Editor 
of the Newspaper by the inch, it would not be fair there- 
fore to let the Editor do work in every respect similar for the 
Bank, without any remuneration, while he has to pay for 
paper & types & printing. I will thank you therefore to ask 
M*" Gales to print six thousand extra copies of his paper con- 
taining M'' Adams' & your report together, and send them 
to proper persons in proper places. . . . 

1 Representative from Philadelphia County. Cf. results of the investigating 
committee and its report in Catterall, op. cit., p. 230, 



To Thomas Cadwalader 191 

BiDDLE TO Thomas Cadwalader 

Mav 30. 1832. 
Dear Sir, 

On my arrival I ^ began with a full and frank conver- 
sation with Mr. McLane on the subject of the Bank and at 
his suggestion saw Mr. Livingston — after which they con- 
ferred — and I saw Mr. Livingston. 

The general purport of my communication was this. The in- 
vestigation has given a new aspect to our affairs — it dis- 
arms, or ought to disarm some of the hostility hitherto enter- 
tained toward it, and furnishes a new motive for pressing a 
decision. Under these circumstances it would be very agree- 
able if the Executive would concur in promoting the object 
— which we would gladly attain by accepting such modifica- 
tions as would be agreeable to the administration. I stated 
moreover the extreme awkwardness of having such a measure 
before Congress while the Department to which it belonged 
had no cognizance of it and my anxiety to cooperate with the 
Executive in modifying and perfecting the measure. I need 
not detail peculiarity of their situation which makes them 
passive and all that I could learn from Mr. Livingston was 
that the awkwardness was irretrievable — and that It only 
remained to make the bill as unexceptionable as possible. 

We have then parted good friends. 

BiDDLE TO Thomas Cadwalader 

Wash". June 5, 1832 
Tuesday 5 o'clock 
My dear General, 

For the last week I have been expecting daily to re- 

1 Biddle went to Washington May 20, with the idea of conducting his own 
campaign. This letter is printed in Catterall, op. ciU, pp. 232, 233, note 3. 



192 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

turn home, & was willing therefore to spare you & myself the 
trouble of corresponding, when we could so much more read- 
ily converse about the matter. It has been a week of hard 
work anxiety & alternating hopes & fears, but I think that 
we may now rely with confidence in a favorable result. You 
know how many difficulties are to be overcome — how many 
hostilities are to be encountered; how many friendly indis- 
cretions and weaknesses are to be repaired, in a work like this. 
I think moreover that it has reached a point where we may 
promise ourselves some rest. The Senate are now occupied 
with what I consider the most decisive point of the whole 
question — and being obliged to leave the capitol to prepare 
for some company to dine with me, I write these views as pre- 
liminary to the news which the Senators who are to be my 
guests may bring with them. They have come. This day like 
yesterday has been consumed in rejecting a very distract- 
ing & dangerous proposal to exchange a bonus for the obli- 
gation to discount at five per cent. I have been at work all 
day to get rid of it — and we have succeeded by a vote of 
26 to 18 in excluding it. Tomorrow we shall have something 
decisive. 

Biddle to Thomas Cadwalader 

Wash" July 3. 1832. 
Tuesday evening 
My dear Gen', 

. . . The Senate immediately agreed to the amend- 
ment so that the Bill has finally passed. ^ I congratulate 
our friends most cordially upon their most satisfactory result. 
Now for the President. My belief is that the President will 

^ Bill passed the Senate 28 to 20. Cong. Debates, vol. viil, pt. I, p. 1073. 



Nicholas B'lddle 

From a miniature by Henry Inman 



PUBlI, 



ASTC 
TlLDt:: 



From TV. Creighton 193 

veto the bill though that Is not generally known or believed. 
This however we shall soon see. 



Daniel Webster to Thomas Cadwalader 

Washington July 5. 1832 
My Dear Sir, 

Mr Biddle left on yesterday. I feel it to be a duty to 
express to those particularly interested in the Bank, my 
sense of the great benefit which has been derived from his 
presence and attention here. We should have done but badly 
without him. His address & ability, in satisfying the doubts 
of friends, softening the opposition of enemies, & explaining 
whatever needed explanation, have been important cause in 
producing the result, which has, so far, attended the Bill. 
I can assure you, that this is not only my opinion, but that 
of others, also, the most competent observers & judges. At 
dinner, yesterday, where gentlemen were speaking of the 
subject, a very distinguished person observed, "that it was 
only once in a century that a man was to be found so emi- 
nently fitted to be the head of such an Institution as Mr B." 
... I am, Dear Sir, with very true regard. 

W. Creighton to Biddle 

Washington July 10*^ 1832 
Dear Sir, 

M'. Van Buren arrived at the Presidents on Sunday 
night, and to day the President sent to the senate his veto 
on the Bank bill.^ 

* Richardson, op. cit., vol. li, pp. 576 et seq. 



194 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

William G. Bucknor ^ to Biddle 

July 12^^. 1832 
My dear Sir 

You will perceive by the Papers to day what effect 
the Veto has had upon your Stock, and the Stockholders have 
now the satisfaction of being acquainted with the objections 
which have influenced General Jackson in refusing a renewal 
of the Charter. The period has arrived in which those inter- 
ested in the Bank have no hope but from your exertions and 
the only means are to endeavour to defeat his election which 
as far as I can learn may be accomplished by opposing to him 
one or more of those Papers in this State whose influence & 
circulation is great and that this can be arranged I am con- 
fident. I am only anxious an immediate attack should be 
made upon him, for to be effective it must be made at once. 
I have had a conversation with Webb ^ who I am sure is 
ready, very little is required to turn this state and I think it 
can be done. I take the liberty of offering you one Suggestion, 
which is, that at the present moment of excitement it would be 
a matter of serious accommodation to the Stockholders many 
of them, if directions were given to the Branch here to lend on 
the Stock either temporarily or on the i^*. of October without 
grace when they can have time to make other arrangements. I 
pray you to believe that this is disinterested as regards myself. 

Biddle to William G. Bucknor 

PhiK July 13. 1832 
My dear Sir 

I had this morning the pleasure of receiving your 

* Bucknor and Biddle, brokers of New York. 

* James Watson Webb, editor of th'e New York Courier and Enquirer. Cf. 
sketch of life in Bennett, James G., Memoirs (New York, 1885), p. 105. 



'To JVilliam G, Bucknor 195 

favor of the 12^^ inst. & thank you for the suggestions it 
contains, which are I am sure dictated by the most friendly 
disposition to the Bank. The subject, as you may readily 
suppose, has occupied much of my thoughts, so that I 
am able to speak of it at once but after very deliberate 
reflection. 

I am very sensible of the value to the Bank of the result 
contemplated & fully aware of the importance of what you 
mention in accomplishing that result. But the agency of the 
Bank in contributing to it is a matter of very grave consider- 
ation. When the Bank was denounced by the President, & all 
the influences of his patronage arrayed against it, it was an 
obvious duty not to suflfer the institution to be crushed by 
the weight of power — but to appeal directly to the country 
— and as the whole channel through which the understand- 
ings of the community could be reached was the press, we 
strove to disseminate widely correct information in regard 
to the Bank. That object is accomplished. The Bank is fairly 
before the country and large majorities of both houses of 
Congress have decided in its favor. One individual has how- 
ever opposed his will to the deliberate reflections of the rep- 
resentatives of the people — and the question now is whether 
the Bank ought to exert itself to defeat the reelection of that 
person who is now the only obstacle to its success. On that 
question I have made up my mind that to interfere in the 
election would be a departure from the duty which the 
Bank owes to the country. The first law of its existence is en- 
tire and unqualified abstinence from all political connexions 
& exertions. This it has hitherto practised, and whatever 
may be the consequences, must continue to practise. The 
temptations to a contrary course are I feel very great, but 



1 96 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

I believe it to be the duty of the Bank to resist them. If I 
could permit myself to do otherwise, it would have an ad- 
ditional satisfaction in the prospect of serving one who has 
I think been very hardly and unjustly treated by his politi- 
cal associates. 

You will easily believe that I think our differences of 
opinion on this subject arise merely from our looking at the 
object from different points of view, for I think in my situ- 
ation You would probably entertain the same sentiments. I 
shall always be glad to hear from you whenever you have 
leisure, & remain. 

Biddle to Henry Clay ^ 

{private) PhIK August i^^ 1832 

My dear Sir 

You ask what is the effect of the Veto. My impression 
is that it is working as well as the friends of the Bank and of 
the country could desire. I have always deplored making the 
Bank a party question, but since the President will have It 
so, he must pay the penalty of his own rashness. As to the 
Veto message I am delighted with It. It has all the fury of 
a chained panther biting the bars of his cage. It is really a 
manifesto of anarchy — such as Marat or Robespierre might 
have issued to the mob of the faubourg St Antolne: and my 
hope is that it will contribute to relieve the country from 
the dominion of these miserable people. You are destined to 
be the instrument of that deliverance, and at no period of 
your life has the country ever had a deeper stake in you. I 
wish you success most cordially, because I believe the insti- 
tutions of the Union are involved In it. 

* This letter is published in Colton, op. cit., vol. iv, p. 34. 



To yohn Tilford 197 



The Bank of the U.S. to John S. Biddle, Dr. 

For 20" copies M'' M^Duffie's report from the mi- 
nority of the Com^^ appointed to examine BUS. 
a2i$ 420 

12^ copies Mr Adams' separate report from same 

Co™«« at 22 ^ 264 

25^^ copies M"" Websters speech on the President's 

veto message on the Bill rechartering BU.S. 25 $ 500 

50^ copies (German & English edition) "review" of 
the President's veto Message on the bill rechar- 
tering B U S. a $20 1000 

10^^ copies Mr Smith's report to the Senate on be- 
half of the Com^^ of finance on B U.S. a ^12 120 

20^ copies report of Com^ Ways & Means to the H 
of R. on B U.S. Mr McDufRe Chairman a $10 200 

10^^ copies report of the Sec^ of Treas^. on BUS. ^9 90 
Expenses incurred for transportation & circula- 
tion of the following documents 748-71 

^3,24271 
PhiK Sep^ 20, 1832 

Received payment 

John S. Biddle 

Biddle to John Tilford 

Phil^ Sept' iG-^ 1832 
Dear Sir 

I send by this mail M"". Websters speech on the Veto 
Message, and also another article reviewing that message. It 
is desirable that these should be circulated so as to counter- 
act the injurious impressions which the message was destined 
to make against the Institution. You will therefore cause the 
papers, as well as M^ Clay's & M^ Ewing's speeches on the 
same subject or any other well written articles in regard to 
the Bank to be printed and dispersed. If you think any of 
these I have mentioned too long or elaborate for general 



198 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

reading, you can substitute any other matter which may 
have the same object. All that I wish to caution you against 
is, that abstaining as the Bank does from all connexion with 
what are called party politics, you will confine your efforts 
exclusively to the distribution of what may be explanatory 
of the operations and conduct of the Bank. Confined to that 
object exclusively, you may cause to be printed and circu- 
lated any amount of such papers as you may consider neces- 
sary for the vindication of the Bank and give me an account 
of the expense, which you will of course endeavor to make as 
reasonable as may consist with the object in view. 

BmDLE TO John Rathbone Jr.* 

PhiK Nov^ 21^^ 1832 
My dear Sir 

. . . The Bank does not mean to commence any sys- 
tematic reduction of its loans with a view to winding up its 
affairs. It does not mean to begin to close its concerns. It 
means to go on in its general business just as if no such event 
as the President's negative had ever happened. The only 
alteration it proposes is rather in the form than in the amount 
of its loans — an alteration which under any circumstances, 
it would be disposed to recommend — and it is this — to give 
gently and gradually the loans of the Bank the direction of 
domestic bills, converting where it can be done the line of 
notes discounted, into domestic bills of exchange, which be- 
ing payable at maturity, will give the Institution a greater 
command over its funds. . . . 

1 A powerful financier from New York. One of the directors of the New York 
and Erie Railroad. Wilson, op. cit., vol. lii, p. 416, note. 



From Colt (?) 199 



Colt (?) to Biddle 

Paterson 8 Dec' 1832. 
My dear Sir 

... If the Secretary of the Treasury comes out against 
the Bank, & which I am now disposed to doubt, since I find 
who are interested In depressing Stock, I think You ought at 
once, to call a Meeting of the Whole Board and consult with 
them, whether a meeting of the Stockholders should not be 
called — that the affairs of the Bank may be examined into, 
with a view of putting down the calumnies heaped upon its 
present administration — the reason given to the Public for 
the call might be, to ask directions or Instructions from the 
Stockholders on the subject of curtailing the discounts & 
withdrawing the Southern & western Branches — this would 
frighten the men at Washington not a little — it Is astonish- 
ing what a change the Message ^ has produced — no one 
doubts for a moment had this message come out 6 weeks ago 
that Jackson would have lost his Election & Yet in 6 weeks 
more, it will be the flinging up of Caps & hurrah for Jackson 
— he is all right — the Bank must be put down — the Tariff 
must be put down — so must the Supreme Court — & the 
Lands given to the Western States & internal improvements is 
worse than bad. I really think You ought to curtail Your 
Discount in Tenessee, Mobile, Charleston, Savanna, & Vir- 
ginia. I would let these people feel a pressure — but not of 
course so as to cause failures — give orders at Same time 
that in all instances at the Southern & Southwestern Offices 
Where more Is offered than they can do, to discount first 
the Drafts on the Northern & Eastern Cities & refuse the 

' Richardson, op. cit., vol. 11, pp. 599, 600. 



2 00 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

domestic Notes unless the discounts are made of better 
paper to enable the offerer to take up a Note held by the 
Bank. Your true plan is now to encrease even Your Loans 
to a man, if You can thereby make a doubtful debt secure, so 
the great object is now to see how much You can repay the 
Stockholders, upon the Supposition the Bank is to be wound 
up in 5 Years. . . . 

Charles Jared Ingersoll to Biddle 

Washington Jan^ 18/33 
Dear Sir 

During the few days of my stay here I have made it a 
point to ascertain from good authority what the probability 
is as to the bank of the U S; the result is an assurance that 
some time during one of the Sessions of the next Congress, 
the Executive will invite their attention to the subject,^ and 
submit a plan, which, with modifications, such as the Legis- 
lative and Executive may eventually agree upon, will become 
the institution. What the plan is I did not inquire. Not with- 
standing all that has passed it is impossible to travel ever so 
short a distance as from Philadelphia to Washington without 
perceiving universal preference and undiminished confidence 
in the papers of the bank of the US.... 

John Sergeant to BmoLE 

Washington Mar: 2. 1833. 
My dear Sir, 

. . . Looking forward, tho' the present excitement will 

* On January 4, 1830, James A. Hamilton had furnished President Jackson 
with a scheme for the creation of five "offices of deposit." Bassett, Jackson, vol. 
II, p. 603. 



From yohn Sergeant 201 

cease, and the composition of Congress be different and less 
favorable, there are still to be discerned the elements of hope. 
The new state of parties will be founded upon a combination 
of the South, and the leaders of it (the Southern party) are 
friends of the Bank upon principle, and will be more so from 
opposition to Jackson. If they succeed in their first object, 
of uniting the South, they will carry the whole of it in favor 
of the Bank, either actively or passively, those who cannot 
act in that direction, becoming neutralised and Quiescent. 
In the middle and Northern States, and in the West too, 
their view as to the Bank question will be an argument to 
gain friends for their party. Against a combination which 
threatens to be so powerful. Van Buren will have to look for 
alliances in the North, I think, and in so doing will be obliged 
to give up his hostility to the Bank. It is quite possible, in- 
deed, that he may come into conjunction with some of its 
most decided friends. In the mean time, Jackson's influence 
will be diminishing, and his personal feelings will by no. 
means have the same weight as heretofore. And, besides, 
I think he will be pressed by so powerful an opposition, 
that even he will be obliged to behave himself with some 
decency. 

What I have thus hinted at, is no doubt the subject of 
calculation with those who are looking to the future, and I 
shall be surprized if even at the next session there be not 
an altered tone towards the Bank in Congress, less ferocity 
among its opponents, and more confidence on the part of its 
friends, who, by the way, can never be too much commended 
for the zeal and courage they have manifested under tlie most 
unpromising circumstances. . . . 



2 02 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



John G. Watmough to Biddle 

Washington Saturday 
March 23. 1833 
My dear Sir 

... The rumor here now is, that both Van Buren ^ 
& M^Lane are opposed to the removal of the Deposits. I have 
no news for you & it only remains for me to repeat the warm 
assurance of esteem & regard, with which I shall ever remain, 
my dear sir 

Biddle to Daniel Webster 

Phil^ April 8. 1833 
My dear Sir, 

I have received your favor of the '^^^ inst. I have no 
information of the intended removal of the deposits, though 
my opinion is that they will not dare to remove them. Never- 
theless it is very desirable that whatever is done in the way 
of pacification should be done soon — for if the deposits are 
withdrawn, It will be a declaration of war which cannot be 
recalled. . . . 

Henry Clay to Biddle 

Ashland lo^'' April 1833 
My Dear Sir 

I have received your favor of the 25*^. ult: and perused 
its Interesting contents with much satisfaction. Your friendly 
solicitude to prevent any estrangement between Mr. W.^ 

* For Van Buren's attitude on the removal of deposits, cf. Bassett, Jackson, 
vol. II, pp. 631, 640, 740. 

^ This letter refers to a former communication of Biddle to Clay on the ques- 
tion of the Compromise Tariff. On March 25 Biddle wrote Clay that he had en- 



From Henry Clay 203 

and myself adds another to the many previous obligations 
under which you had placed me. I concur entirely with you 
in thinking that, on every account, such a change in the 
amicable relations between that gentleman and myself would 
be very unfortunate. 

After the introduction of the Compromise bill. It was mani- 
fest at Washington that a few of the Eastern friends of Mr. 
W., supposing that I had taken a step that would destroy 
me in the public estimation, indulged hopes that a new party 
would be formed, of which he might be the sole head. I thought 
that Mr. W. himself made an unprovoked and unnecessary 
allusion to me when, in describing the struggles of Mr. Cal- 
houn in a Bog, he stated that no friend could come to his 
relief without sharing in his embarrassment. Even the female 
part of the audience understood to whom the allusion was 
directed. I need not say to you that I felt myself under no sort 
of obligation to Mr. Calhoun himself or to the State from 
which he came; that I had experienced nothing but unkind- 
ness from both; and that I have come under no engagement 
whatever with him in regard to the future. If S° Carolina 
had stood alone, or if she could have been kept separated 
from the riot of the South in the contest which I apprehended 
to be impending, I should not have presented the measure 
which I did. 

On a subsequent occasion Mr. W. imputed to me, in a man- 
ner I thought unfriendly, an abandonment of the Protective 
policy. To that suggestion an immediate reply was made. And 

deavored to change Webster's opinion on the subject; and that while Webster was 
visiting in Philadelphia he had prevented the Senator's friends from giving a 
public dinner for fear it might " furnish an occasion for his less discreet friends to 
do and say things inexcusable at a moment of excitement." Webster left the city 
"in a frame of mind entirely satisfactory." 



2 04 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

to his chief attack upon the bill itself a prompt answer was 
given, which you had seen in the public prints. Whatever 
momentary feelings were excited, during the progress of the 
measure, I assure you after it was carried that they entirely 
ceased ; and all my sentiments of attachment to Mr. W. re- 
turned in their undiminished strength. I took several occa- 
sions to evince to him this state of my heart; and I was happy 
to believe that it was fully reciprocated by him. I assure you 
that on my part these feelings shall be constantly cherished. 

You will have heard from him or others that the Compro- 
mise ^ was not offered until after the fullest and freest con- 
ferences with him and others. Two distinct meetings at my 
quarters of ii or 12 Senators (at the first of which he at- 
tended, and to the last he was summoned) took place, in 
which It was fully discussed and considered. At the last I 
interrogated each Senator individually, and I understood 
every one to agree substantially to the bill (for I had pre- 
pared a bill) except one, who finally voted for it. Several of 
those who had, as I supposed, assented to it voted against it. 

I do not now think that the course of Mr. W. and other 
gentlemen from the East and North who voted with him, is to 
be regretted — certainly not, if the difference of opinion should 
produce, and it ought to produce, no alienation between 
friends. Many of them I know so voted, from considerations 
of policy, rather than from any positive objections to the bill. 
And the course which they pursued will probably tend to rec- 
oncile the South more strongly to a measure, In which it has 
got a nominal triumph, whilst all the substantial advantages 
have been secured to the Tariff States. . . . 

* Compromise Bill passed the House, February 26, 1833, 119 to 85; Senate 
on March i, 29 to 16. 



From Robert TV. Gihbes 205 

BiDDLE TO Daniel Webster 

PhiK April 10, 1833 
Dear Sir, 

I wrote to you to day that M' L. would be in New 
York. I write to you again to say that I think it would be 
well to see him. The whole question of peace or war lies in 
the matter of the deposits. If they are withdrawn, it is a decla- 
ration of war. It is wiser therefore to begin the work of peace 
before any irrevocable step is taken. 

Robert W. Gibbes to BmoLE 

Private Baltimore I3**'* April 1833. 

My D^ Sir, / 

The contents of this letter you will comprehend, when 
you connect with it a late conversation held by yourself with 
a mutual acquaintance of ours, and to whom an unexpected 
opportunity has been ofFer'd of gaining the following informa- 
tion, on which you may rely as of the highest^ & most direct 
authority. 

You need not be informed of the hostility of the Admin- 
istration to the Institution over which you preside, but the 
following items must prove interesting. At this moment 
the opinion of the different members as to the immediate 
withdrawal of the Government Deposites is asked, and 
their individual opinion stands thus. In the first place the 
President considers that he has conquered all of his diffi- 
culties but that of the Bank, & this he is determined to 
accomplish " coute qui coute." Were it left to Kendall & 
himself they would withdraw the Deposites immediately, 



2 o 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

but believing as they do, that the Bank has 40 or 50 mil- 
lions discount in the Western Country, which it will be com- 
pelled to curtail, whether or no, they prefer the odium to rest 
on its Head, instead of that of the Government. M'' M'^Lane 
considers that the Government would be prostrated by their 
taking this step, and therefore is adverse to the withdrawal 
at present. The Post Master Gen^ objects to the step at this 
moment also, but considers the convenience of making his 
Deposits in State Banks so important, that he contemplates 
asking permission (which he thinks will not be refused him) 
of making his separate deposits in them, — more especially 
as you will not permit him to overdraw, without a confiden- 
tial letter from him to that effect. Taney is for immediate with- 
drawal. And the influence of such men as Com^ Stewart, 
Whitney, &c, is exerted to effect this object, which will pro- 
duce the natural consequence of lowering the market value 
of the Stock. The present disposition of the influential party 
is to withdraw the deposits in October next. But the wily 
Magician is for throwing the responsibility on Congress, be- 
lieving that they will have a sufficient majority to Carry 
their measure. His hostility to the Bank is implacable; and 
the various offers made to them by different State Banks 
tally's much better with their ulterior views than the secur- 
ity offered by the present mode of Deposit. In a few words, 
— if it be not determined on to withdraw the Deposits in 
October, the firm belief is, that the President, instead of 
recommending this measure in his next annual Message, will 
simply state in it some definite period when he is determined 
they shall be withdrawn. 

I give you the above information at the request of M"". 
Oliver, and should any thing further be communicated which 



To y, S. Barbour 207 

we may deem important, you shall be made acquainted 
with it. 

I need not point out the source of this information — but 
will merely add, that you may rely on the its correctness. 

That it may prove of service to you is the sincere wish of 

BmDLE TO J. S. Barbour 

{private) PhiK April 16'''. 1833. 

My dear Sir 

. . . The fact is that the real sin of the Bank in the 
eyes of the Executive is, that it is refractory & unmanage- 
able. When these people first came into power on a current of 
overwhelming popularity, to which they thought every thing 
should yield, they considered the Bank a part of the spoil, 
and one of their first efi'orts was to possess themselves of the 
institution for the benefit of their partizans. We saw all that 
would follow from the slightest concession — and deter- 
mined, since there must be War, to begin it in the frontiers 
by letting them know that they were to have nothing to 
do with the Bank. From that time they resolved, that as 
they could not bend it they would break it. This is the whole 
secret of the opposition to the institution. I know this so well 
that I feel myself a much more profound Jurist than all the 
lawyers and all the statesmen of Virginia put together, for in 
half an hour, I can remove all the constitutional scruples in the 
District of Columbia. Half a dozen Presidencies — a dozen 
Cashierships — fifty Clerkships — a hundred Directorships 
— to worthy friends who have no character and no money. 
Why, there is more matter for deep reflection in such a sen- 
tence than in any twenty of Tacitus or Montesquieu. It 
would outweigh the best argument of your Madisons & Ran- 



2o8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

dolphs & Watkins Leigh's. But that sentence, short and easy 
as it seems, shall never be written or said: and so we must 
go on to the end of the chapter, and the charter. . . . 

Thomas Cooper ^ to Biddle 

College, Columbia South Carolina 
April 27. 1833 
Dear Sir 

I am in principle opposed to all Banks, and of course 
to that over which you preside. I wrote the review of that 
question in the Southern review. I have just written the ar- 
ticle on Banks in the Southern Times of this place, which I 
send by this post. I have not varied in my good opinion of 
your personal Character, to which I have not omitted to bear 
willing testimony. 

If I could oppose the banking system with success, I would 
do so; but I cannot. Under these circumstances, I very 
greatly prefer the renewal of your institution, to the Schemes 
of Gen'. Jackson and Van Beuren; & I have determined to 
open upon them the battery of the Press here. Have you any 
facts or suggestions that you would be willing to communi- 
cate to me confidentially in aid of my design ? If so, I will use 
them as I here propose. If not, all is well; I shall go on, with 

1 A distinguished scientist, writer, and politician of South Caroh'na. Cooper 
was born in London, October 22, 1759. After studying at Oxford, Cooper visited 
France where he became involved in the political struggles of that nation. In 1795 
he came to America with Dr. Joseph Priestley ; but, once more taking up the cudgel 
against government, he was tried under the Alien and Sedition laws for attacking 
the administration of John Adams. From 181 1 to 1814 he held the chair of chem- 
istry in Dickinson College; in 1816, the same chair at the University of Pennsyl- 
vania; and from 1820 to 1834, the presidency of the University of South Carolina. 
Dr. Cooper soon became interested in Southern politics and was a strong advocate 
of nullification. The character of the man can easily be discerned from this and the 
following letters to Biddle. Cf. sketch of life in Niles, June 22, 1839. 



To 'Thomas Cooper 209 

such observations as occur to me. You know me, and I pre- 
sume will take for granted that I write In good faith, as a Gen- 
tleman ought. I am Dear Sir 

I have communicated to no one, my intention of apply- 
ing to you for information, nor shall I. I send you also a 
pamphlet. 

BmDLE TO Thomas Cooper Esq. 

PhiK May O-^. 1833. 
Dear Sir 

... I have observed with great interest what you have 
written on the subject of the Bank. The truth is, that the 
question is no longer between this Bank & no Bank. It is a 
mere contest between Mr. Van Buren's Government Bank 
and the present institution — between Chestnut St and 
Wall St — between a Faro Bank and a National Bank. 
You do not perhaps know that soon after these people came 
into power, there was a deliberation in Caucus of the most 
active of the Jackson Party as to the means of sustaining 
themselves in place — and the possession of the Bank was 
ranked as a primary object. For this purpose they began in 
1829 with an effort to remove an obnoxious President of one 
of the Branches — which was to be followed by a systematic 
substitution of their creatures throughout the whole insti- 
tution. This experiment failed, owing to the firmness of the 
Directors who determined that they would not permit the 
interference of the Executive Officers. . . . From that moment 
they despared of turning the Bank to their political purposes, 
and have been intent on breaking It down to substitute some 
machinery more flexible. To that spirit, a new impulse has 
been given by a coterie of gamblers who having ascertained 



2 1 o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

the views of the Executive before the last session of Congress 
and believing that they must be fatal to the Bank, made large 
contracts on time. These executive denunciations not hav- 
ing sufficiently lowered the stock to render the speculations 
safe or profitable, the parties are now endeavoring to force 
the Executive Into the withdrawal of the public deposits, as 
a measure that would cover their retreat. This combination 
of political gamblers and gambling politicians Is the key to 
the whole history of the relations between the Bank & the 
executive. Against that coalition, all honest men should exert 
themselves. I am extremely gratified therefore at the opening 
of that battery of yours, and shall be very glad to supply you 
with all the ammunition In my power. . . . 

Biddle to J. S. Barbour ^ 

PhiK July 11*^ 1833 
My dear Sir 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
7'^ Inst, and am rejoiced to hear that your avowed purpose 
of acting next winter In the legislature has brought out an 
expression of corresponding sentiments in other quarters. 

What should be deeply Impressed on the minds of the 
Southern gentleman Is, I think, this — that the administra- 
tion people mean to unite in an outcry against any Bank, & 
having thus secured the cooperation of the constitutionalists 
In the destruction of the present Bank, they will then build 
up one of their own, leaving the Constitutionalists to be 
laughed at, after having been duped. The question Is no 
longer open. It Is a question between Chestnut St and Wall 
St. — a question whether the Central Gov^ is to have the 

* Representative from Virginia. 



From "Thomas Cooper 



2 11 



command of the revenues — a question between a Treasury 
Bank or an independent Bank, 

M"" Gouge ^ was an assistant Editor of a party newspaper 
devoted to the cause of M"" Jackson & opposed to the Bank. 
He has retired from the paper and this book is among the 
fruits of his leisure. The work has attracted so Httle notice 
that I had never seen it, tho' I had observed the advertise- 
ment of it; nor have I ever heard it mentioned. In conse- 
quence of your letter, I have sent for a copy of it, and have 
run my eyes over it. M"" Gouge has no knowledge or experi- 
ence of his own on the subject of which he treats, nor do I 
observe any thing either strong or original in the book, which 
consists of an accumulation of common place extracts such 
as any body could get together who wished to support a sys- 
tem of any sort. I ought not to speak so disparagingly, since 
I observe that he is very civil and complimentary to me per- 
sonally, but really there does not appear to be much merit of 
his compilation. It is a book made with the scissors, & what 
is worse, a dull pair 

Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

Columbia S. Carolina 
July 12. 1833 
D'Sir 

I observe the Jackson administration, to conciliate 
Pennsylvania, have appointed W. J. Duane to the treasury, a 

1 William M. Gouge was the editor of the Philadelphia Gazette and for thirty 
years contributed articles on banking to various periodicals. He was connected for 
some time with the Treasury Department in Washington. His best-known works 
are: The History of the American Banking System (1835); The Expediency of Dis- 
pensing with Bank Paper (1837); and Fiscal History of Texas (1852). Gouge was 
a strong advocate of the Sub-Treasury and had great influence in trying to es- 
tablish this system. 



2 1 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

man of plain practical good sense, and I believe of good mean- 
ing; but he must of necessity in a short time adopt adminis- 
tration morals, which is a code identical under every admin- 
istration of every form of government. He has written to the 
editor of the Times, to send him the series of Essays signed 
C. I shall send him the number of July 6 & that of to day 
in my own name: I have not kept any but one copy of 
the former numbers. I observe Ritchie ^ of Richmond is very 
angry : of course: many people here think I abandon my prin- 
ciples; but I do not write for popularity, but for what I con- 
sider as just and true under the circumstances. To Gen'. 
Jackson, his proclamation & his force bill,^ & to those who 
support these measures, I have nothing to say but bellum 
inter necinum. Degraded as we are, to a government whose 
polar star Is the omnipotence of parliament, I care but little 
about modern politics here, except to oppose them. 

BiDDLE TO Robert Lenox 

PhiK July 30 1833 
My dear sir 

. . . The gamblers are doing every thing in their power 
to bend M*". Duane to their purposes. But he knows them and 
will not yield an inch. I feel entirely confident that he will do 
his duty, and will leave his place rather than prostitute It. 

I wish to wait a little while until the smoke blows off, be- 
fore doing any thing very decisive. In the mean time I wish 
you would keep within your income — and bring the State 

' Thomas Ritchie, editor of the Richmond Enquirer. For Ritchie's actions 
during these years see the admirable Life by Professor Ambler. 

2 Cf. Houston, David F., Critical Studies of Nullification in South Carolina 
(Harvard Historical Studies, vol. in, 1896), pp. 128-130, 149; Phillips, Ulrich B., 
Georgia and State Rights (American Historical Association, Annual Report, 1901, 
vol. n). 



T^o 'Thomas Cooper 213 

Banks in debt to you : and for the present it is better that you 
should do it — than that I should say it: for when once we 
begin, we shall have many things to do, which will crush the 
Kitchen Cabinet at once 

BiDDLE TO Samuel Swartwout * 

{confidential) Philad*. July 30 1833 

Dear Sir 

A friend of mine and M"^ Duane's asked me two days 
ago if there was any body in New York to whom I could 
recommend M"^. Duane, so that he might not be deceived and 
see things with his own eyes. I said that you were the very 
man. I have had no opportunity of seeing my friend since, to 
ascertain whether he had mentioned your name to M*". Duane. 
Whether he did or did not however, you have the means of 
doing much good by frank communications with M''. D. He 
I believe knows and feels that the toils of these gamblers are 
spread for him, and he ought to be helped in his honest efforts 
to disentangle himself. If these practices could once be brought 
home to a gang so as to satisfy the President and Secretary 
of their schemes, the country might be much benefitted 

BmDLE TO Thomas Cooper 

PhiK July 31^^ 1833. 
Dear Sir 

. . . There is at this moment a strange scene before 
our eyes here. M^ Duane, after much solicitation and with an 
unaffected hesitation accepted the place of Secretary — but 
he took it entirely untrammelled & unpledged. He had been a 

* For Swartwout's activities during these years, cf. Fish, Carl R., The Civil Serv- 
ice and the Patronage (Harvard Historial Studies, vol. xi, 1905), pp. 114, 121, 139. 



2 14 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

little time in Office when he was required to concurr in the 
schemes of Jackson and the Kitchen Cabinet against the 
Bank by withdrawing the deposits. This he refused. A mis- 
sion has accordingly been set on foot to make arrangements 
with the State Banks to do the duties now performed by the 
Bank of the U.S. so as to deprive Mr. Duane of the objection 
that the change would incommode the public business. Of 
this mission Amos Kendall is the plenipotentiary, and he is 
expected here to-day. If he succeeds the attack will be re- 
sumed on M^ Duane. But that gentleman will I am satisfied 
refuse, as he has already done. He will take a decided, firm, 
manly stand, and will leave his place rather than prostitute 
it. This will introduce a new state of things. The Kitchen 
Cabinet is already against M''. Duane & will endeavor to ex- 
pel him — but if he is only firm as I rely on his being, he may 
do much to break up this nest of gamblers. The result will be 
soon known. In the mean time I think we may be sure that 
M"". Duane will be in flagrant opposition to the Kitchen Cabi- 
net, that he has already refused, and will continue to refuse to 
yield to them. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Daniel Webster 

Phi^. Aug 13. 1833. 
My dear Sir 

Altho' we do not feel anxious as to the result of the 
movements at Washington touching the Bank, still it is 
thought prudent to prepare for any adverse event and ac- 
cordingly we have this day given instructions to the Branches 
to keep their discounts at their present amount — and to 
shorten the time for which they buy bills of exchange. This 
will make the institution strong & if any sudden movement 



"To Robert Lenox 215 

is attempted by the Cabinet, proper or improper, we shall 
be ready. This will, I trust be temporary, as the squall may 
blow over. 

BmDLE TO Thomas Cooper 

Phil^ August 16'^ 1833. 
My dear Sir 

. . . This I know is their design. This very day, a 
gentleman in whom I have the utmost confidence, repeated to 
me a conversation which a friend of his had with M^ Wood- 
bury. In the course of it, the latter said, "We are not against 
a bank, but against the Bank" — "We went (this was his 
precise expression) to scrabble for the Stock and to have the 
Offices." "But," said the other, "what will you do with the 
constitutional question?" "Poh," said Woodbury, "that we 
can use to " suit ourselves." And this is what they all in- 
tend. I do not believe that a single member of the Cabinet 
has any constitutional doubts about the matter except M"". 
Duane — and he, I incline to think, is almost, if not quite as 
firm, in his dislike to State Banks. He is entirely and cordially 
against the movement of Kendall & I cannot doubt he will 
resist the gamblers. . . . 

BmDLE TO Robert Lenox 

Phll^ Oct l^ 1833. 
My dear Sir 

I have received this morning your letter of the 30*^ 
ulto. and have since had a long interview with M"" Rathbone 
to whom I explained our whole situation and views — and 
to whom I must refer you for more particulars than I have 
leisure to give. 



2 1 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

After a great deal of reflection, we are all satisfied that the 
best thing to be done is to do as little as possible.^ The ex- 
change operations are placed by the resolutions passed to- 
day on a proper footing. We do not give any instructions as 
to reducing the local discounts, but we shall reduce ours at 
the Bank, and if you can gradually diminish yours without ex- 
citing uneasiness among our customers it would be very good 
policy. Our wish Is not to give an order to that effect lest It 
might create alarm, but to do It quietly and imperceptibly. 

The subject which has given us more anxiety than any other 
is the treatment of the Branch notes. We are now satisfied 
that our best plan is to continue to receive them as hereto- 
fore — and that your Office should do the same. The idea we 
have is this. The balances now in Bank will probably be ab- 
sorbed by the disbursements of the Government and in the 
mean time the accruing revenue will be left with the new re- 
ceiving Banks. There it may accumulate, and masses of It 
may be held sufficient to incommode some of the smaller 
Branches, to whom it may be suddenly sent. It is better for 
us therefore to absorb It — if we can — until the measures 
in operation at the Branches will reduce their Issues so much 
as to make them not trouble us. 

The closing of the mail so soon obliges me to stop. 

Daniel Webster to Biddle 

Private " Boston Oct. 29. 1833 

Dear Sir, 

I write this letter, as a private one, & for the purpose 
of inquiring whether the course for the adoption of the Bank 
is yet settled. The removal of the Deposites Is a question of 

' This letter follows Secretary Taney's order for the removal of the deposits. 



From Samuel Swartwout 2 1 7 

great Interest to the Government, & as such will doubtless at- 
tract the attention of Congress. It Is, also, a matter of mo- 
ment to the Bank, as one -part of their Charter. In this point of 
view, it becomes a question whether the Bank should not lay 
the transaction of removing the Deposites, before Congress. 
This, I have no doubt, you have already considered. 

Samuel Swartwout to Biddle 

N York 23 Nov. 1833 
My dear Sir, 

I have this moment read your kind letter of yesterday, 
and am bound to acknoledge that I do not deserve your sup- 
port in the way proposed, for, from the immensely increasing 
commerce of this place, the Collector's duties have so much 
Increased, that it is quite impossible for him to attend to the 
duties of a Director. Hence, it would be improper for me to 
accept It. I am nevertheless greatly obliged by your kind 
offer & tender you very grateful thanks for it. 

Permit me in this letter to say a word on the subject of 
the present money pressure. It is dreadful here and no hope 
of relief excepting thro your Institution. You must be liberal 
and that to a great extent or you will destroy your friends, 
those who have hitherto sustained your cause and defended 
your course. Let me interest you to take this course, it is due 
to your numerous friends and the public at large would give 
your Institution credit for it. Now that the effect of the late 
measure has been made manifest, you can relieve the whole 
community and rely upon It you would reclve due credit & 
consideration for It. I speak to you, my dear Sir, with the 
freedom of a friend. Would to God the Bank would take 
a noble, liberal course and thus justify itself to the world. 



2 1 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Nothing but extensive discounts, by your Institution can save 
your friends & the public in general. All the blame that has 
hitherto been cast upon you would be turned to commenda- 
tion. The old friends and dependents of the Bank are perish- 
ing for want of aid. Surely the Institution cannot mean thls.f* 
Rely upon it, my dear Sir, that [if] the Bank and its Branches 
were now to open the door to the Commercial Community, it 
would make more friends than it ever had. Its power has 
been shown, now let its mercy be manifested. The commu- 
nity is precisely in the situation to be most affected & most 
favourably too, by such a course. . . 

Daniel Webster to BmoLE 

Washington Dec'. 21. 1833 
Sir 

Since I have arrived here, I have had an application to 
be concerned, professionally, against the Bank, which I have 
declined, of course, although I believe my retainer has not 
been renewed, or refreshed as usual. If it be wished that my 
relation to the Bank should be continued, it may be well to 
send me the usual retainers. 

Henry Clay to BmDLE 

{Confidential) Washington 21®*. Dec. 1833. 

My dear Sir 

... If the state of public opinion at Phila^. should be 
such as to favor the operation, it would be well to have a 
general meeting of the people to memorialize Congress in 
favor of a restoration of the deposites. Such an exampte might 
be followed elsewhere; and it would be more influential as 
it might be more general. 



71? W^illiam Appleton 2 1 9 

If the local Banks could be induced to concur in such a 
movement so much the better. 

I think it would be expedient to obtain, at the general 
meeting of the Stockholders in Jan. an expression of their ap- 
probation of the conduct of the Board, and particularly of 
the expenditure which has been made in defending the Bank 
ag'. unfounded attacks. 

We have before the Senate a nomination of the Gov*' Di- 
rectors. 

BiDDLE TO William Appleton * 

{private) B. U S 

Jany 27'^ 1834 
Dear Sir 

. . . My own view of the whole matter is simply this. 
The projectives of this last assault on the Bank regret, and 
are alarmed at it — but the ties of party allegiance can only 
be broken by the actual conviction of existing distress in the 
community. Nothing but the evidence of suffering abroad 
will produce any effect in Congress. If the Bank remains 
strong & quiet, the course of events will save the Bank & 
save all the institutions of the country which are now in great 
peril. But if, from too great a sensitiveness — from the fear 
of offending or the desire of conciliating, the Bank permits 
itself to be frightened or coaxed into any relaxation of its 
present measures, the relief will itself be cited as evidence 
that the measures of the Gov*, are not injurious or oppres- 
sive, and the Bank will inevitably be prostrated. Our only 
safety is in pursuing a steady course of firm restriction — 
and I have no doubt that such a course will ultimately lead to 

* President of the Branch at Boston. 



2 2 o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

restoration of the currency and the recharter of the Bank. How 
soon this will take place, it is of course difficult to conjecture 
• — but I have little apprehension as to the ultimate result. 

Henry Clay to Biddle 

{Confidential) Washington 2^. Feb. 1834 

My dear Sir 

. . . My opinion Is that no movement should yet be 
made towards a renewal of the Charter, or the establishment 
of a New Bank. The Bank ought to be kept in the rear; the 
usurpation in the front. If we take up the Bank, we play into 
the adversary's hands. We realize his assertions that the only 
question is a renewal of the Charter. It is the usurpation 
which has convulsed the Country. If we put it by and take 
up the Bank, we may & probably would divide about the 
terms of the charter, and finally do nothing leaving things as 
they are. In the other course, the recharter will follow. The 
Country will take care of that. 

Horace Binney ^ to Biddle 

Washington 4 Feb. 1834 
dear Sir, 

I write rather at the instance of M'' Webster than at 
my own motion. He seems to think that the Bank ought to 
reduce as slowly & moderately as they can — & occasionally 
to ease off — where it is requisite to prevent extreme suffer- 
ing. I told him that I supposed that the Bank meant to wind 
up, as a matter of necessity, arising from the hostility of the 
Treasury to them — and that if any thing was said by a friend 
of the currency. In regard to the BK reductions. It ought to 

* Binney had been sent to Washington to carry on the struggle for recharter. 



"To yoseph Hopkinson 



221 



be said, with the remark that this was the necessary course 
of the Bank. His apprehension seemed to be, that the Admin 
was setting into action a strong sentiment of opposition to the 
Bank, on account of the reductions, & that it was desirable to 
meet it, either by declarations from the Bank of interested 
moderation, or something to that effect. My only remark to 
yourself is that I suppose the Board & yourself are the 
best judges. . . . 

BmDLE TO John G. Watmough 

Phil^ Feby 8. 1834 
My dear Sir 

. . . You know better than I do what is to happen in 
Washington. What will happen in the Country unless Con- 
gress interposes, is but too manifest — the whole future is full 
of gloom and confusion. My own course is decided — all the 
other Banks and all the merchants may break, but the Bank 
of the United States shall not break. I have asked Com^. 
Biddle what is the least sail under which a man of war can 
lie to in a gale of wind, and he says a close reefed main top 
sail. So our squadron will all be put under close reefed main 
top sails and ride out the gale for the next two years. As to 
those who have no sea room & breakers under their lee, they 
must rely on Providence or Amos Kendall. 

BmDLE TO Joseph Hopkinson ^ 

PhiK Feby 21^* 1834 
My dear sir 

I have to thank you for four letters, all very interest- 

^ Distinguished lawyer of Philadelphia. Judge of the United States Court, 
Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1 828-1 842. 



222 



Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



ing & very welcome. The last only requires any answer & that 
I will give very explicitly. You may rely upon it that the 
Bank has taken its final course and that it will be neither 
frightened nor cajoled from Its duty by any small drivelling 
about relief to the country. All that you have heard on that 
subject from New York Is wholly without foundation. The 
relief, to be useful or permanent, must come from Congress & 
from Congress alone. If that body will do Its duty, relief will 
come — if not, the Bank feels no vocation to redress the 
wrongs Inflicted by these miserable people. Rely upon that. 
This worthy President thinks that because he has scalped 
Indians and imprisoned Judges, he is to have his way with 
the Bank.^ He is mistaken — and he may as well send at 
once and engage lodgings In Arabia ... 

John Sergeant to BmDLE 

{Private) Washington, Feb. 27. 1834 

My dear Sir, 

The first thing of real Importance I have heard since 
I came here was communicated this morning by M"". Cal- 
houn. He asked me whether I had heard any thing from 
M^ Southard. I told him no. Well, he said, there is a letter 
from M"^. S. in which he states as follows — That on his way 
to Baltimore (on Tuesday) a New York Jackson man said 
to him, "As you are going from Washington, I will tell you 
what I would not have told you there. We (meaning himself 
and some of his friends from New York) have been talking 
with the President about the great and increasing distress, 

1 Biddle was urged by numerous friends not to give in to the administra- 
tion. Many of his New York correspondents assured him that the Regency had 
been destroyed and that Jacksonism was dead in their state. 



From jfohn Sergeant 223 

and endeavouring to convince him that this state of things 
cannot continue — that some thing must be done. He (Presi- 
dent) admitted he had heard some thing, but by no means 
to the extent we stated, of which he seemed to have no idea. 
The result was that the President drew up some questions 
for his cabinet, who were to deUberate upon what was to be 
done." As M"". Southard has been in Philad^. you will prob- 
ably have heard all this, and heard it more accurately. The 
further fact, stated by M. Calhoun, is material, that there 
are daily meetings of the cabinet. He told me this yesterday, 
and then thought they were about changes in the adminis- 
tration. To day, he thinks they are upon the subject of the 
New Yorker's conversation, and considering the question 
"What is to be done." If they have come to that point, we 
shall soon see some movement. Strange as it may seem, I 
should not be at all surprized if M^ Taney were to give 
up the Treasury, and some one else (perhaps Forsyth) take 
his place. In such an event we shall see a very queer game 
played. Gen*. Jackson will look at the matter, as he does at 
every thing, singly with reference to himself, and will make 
any sacrifice that may be necessary to save his own repu- 
tation. It is in such emergencies that his greatest skill is 
exhibited, and it is quite unrestrained by any feeling for 
others. 

M"". Calhoun thinks they are upon a question of a new 
Bank. If any project should be brought forward, it will open 
the way for M^ C. to bring forward his plan as a substitute. 
He is fully aware of the advantage would give him — He 
is at this time the most confident man in either house. He 
always speaks of the Administration as broken down and 
gone. . . . 



2 24 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



BiDDLE TO Samuel Breck ^ 

Phil^ March l^* 1834 
My dear Sir 

I have received today your favor of the 26'^ inst. 
with the copy of the Governor's Message.^ I regret on many 
accounts that paper. It will prolong the distress now existing 
without effecting any good object, and it is melancholy to see 
a Governor of Pennsylvania thus aiding in the destruction of 
Pennsylvania interests. What makes it more shocking is, that 
up to the very moment of sending the message, those who 
visited him left him under the strongest conviction that he 
was decidedly friendly to the Bank. In truth he ought to have 
been, for so far from frustrating his loan, the Bank actually 
furnished to Mess^ Allen the means of paying the last instal- 
ment, as the Governor well knew. Of the effect of his message 
on the Bank and upon the financial concerns of Penns^. you 
will form some idea when I mention to you the following fact 
which is a little singular. 

A Committee from New York has been visiting the Bank 
for the purpose of procuring some relief for that city which 
would of course have reacted on our own State. Yesterday the 
Board was to have decided it, & I have no doubt that the Bank 
would have made an effort to give relief — but when we saw 
the Governors message — saw how totally useless the efforts 
of the Bank had been to sustain the credit of the State in 

1 A merchant, born in Boston, 1771, and died in Philadelphia, 1862. He was 
a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature many years, elected as a Federalist to 
the 1 8th Congress serving from December i, 1823, to March 3, 1825; wrote an his- 
torical sketch on Continental paper money in 1843. Cf. Fisher, J. F., Memoirs of 
Samuel Breck (Philadelphia, 1863). 

^ Governor Wolf denounced the Bank in his message. Cf. Niles, vol. 46, 
pp. 26, 27. 



To Charles Hammond 225 

appeasing the spirit of the party — and how little reliance 
could be placed on the men in power, we determined that it 
was in vain to make an effort — and accordingly, instead 
of sending the relief expected, we wrote to the New York 
Committee that the conduct of the Governor of Pennsylvania 
obliged the Bank to look to its own safety, and that therefore 
we declined doing any thing at present. 

So much for the first effect of the Governors patriotism 

BiDDLE TO Charles Hammond * 

PhiK March ii. 1834 
Dear Sir 

. . . Your remarks in regard to the proposed reduc- 
tion of the loans at Cincinnati have been read with great 
attention and interest. Situated as the Bank has been for 
some time past, its first object was necessarily its own pro- 
tection, for in its safety the whole ultimate security of the 
currency must be found. This we have striven to accomplish 
with the least possible pressure on the community — and 
thus far the reductions compared with the deposits are so 
small, that our friends rather reproach us with not having 
done enough, than to have curtailed excessively. The de- 
posit Banks being now in full possession of the public reve- 
nue may employ it in discounts and leave the Bank of the 
United States the opportunity of gently diminishing its busi- 
ness. That with so wide a circulation as 18 or 19 millions 
which the receipts of the public revenue may place in the 
hands of officers who know that no service more acceptable 

1 Distinguished lawyer and journalist of Cincinnati. He became associated 
with the editorial staff of the Cincinnati Gazette in 1823 and in 1825 was made edi- 
tor in chief. Cf . sketch of life in Greve, Charles T., Centennial History of Cincinnati 
(Chicago, 1914), vol. i, pp. 805, 806. 



2 2 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

can be rendered than to employ the funds in injuring the 
Bank, and so many vulnerable points to protect, we shall 
deem it expedient to reduce the present amount of our loans, 
cannot be doubted. The Executive, by removing the public 
revenues has relieved the Bank from all responsibility for the 
currency, and imposed upon it a necessity to look primarily 
to the interest of the Stockholders committed to our charge. 
Our friends must therefore bear with us, if in the midst of 
the present troubles, we should endeavor to strengthen the 
Bank so as to make it able here after to interpose effectively 
for the relief of the Country. . . . 

BmDLE TO Samuel Jaudon 

Phil^ March ii. 1834 
My dear sir 

I received this morning your letter of the 9*^ & read 
with great interest all its details. You and our friend M"^ 
Chauncey ^ now understand so well the whole ground that 
Ishall join you in any opinion which you may ultimately 
adopt. Let us go for the practical. If we can get a permanent 
charter, let us do so — if not, let us take the temporary & 
make it permanent hereafter. Above all, let us do something 
soon. The country now wants something to rally to — it re- 
quires some point on which to concentrate its thoughts. In 
the present fusion of opinions, a stamp may be impressed, 
which will hereafter be more difficult as men's minds cool. 

I go tomorrow to New York to see into the real state of 
things. 

1 Owner of Fenno's old paper, the United States Gazette. Cf. Oberholtzer, op. 
cit., vol. 11, pp. 112, 113. 



To S.H.Smith 227 

James Watson Webb to Biddle 

Washington D.C 
March i8*^ 1834. 
Dear Sir 

I enclose you a letter this day from my assistant Edi- 
tor in relation to the Money Market. It is the universal opin- 
ion of our friends here, that the recharter of the Bank will 
depend to a great extent, upon the result of the approaching 
election in New York; & I assure you that result, depends 
upon the course of the Bank. If you extend, or if you do not 
curtail, and largely too, you must & will lose the election; 
& I must say in the spirit of frankness, that your friends in 
New York & in Congress loudly complain that you are con- 
tinually putting them in the wrong by granting relief and 
thereby rendering their prediction perfectly futile. M*". Mar- 
tin — late of our State — said this morning that many of his 
associates in the House feel very sore on this Lead, and begged 
that when I saw you I would say that to retain the friends it 
has, the Bank must persevere in its curtailments.^ . . . 

BiDDLE TO S. H. Smith ^ 

{private 13 confidential) B U. S. 

April 2°^. 1834 
Dear sir 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
30*'* inst. which I deemed so important, that before answering 
it, I consulted the Board at their meeting yesterday in the 
same confidential manner in regard to the subject of it. It is, 

^ Biddle received many solicitations from his friends in the same tenor as 
this letter. 

* President of the Branch at Washington, D.C. 



2 2 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

as you are aware, a very delicate subject, one of which it is 
very difficult, and yet very necessary, to decide in advance, 
on the best course to be pursued. The opinion of the Board, 
which has my own entire concurrence, is this. 

The Bank of the United States has been compelled in self 
defence to diminish its business and call upon its debtors, and 
refuse to make loans to a very considerable amount. It is still 
doing so — and shall do so for some time. If it had the means 
of lending, it would lend to its own customers. The State 
Banks have all had the same warning — and should prepare 
themselves in the same way — nor is it just that these Banks 
should call upon the Bank of the U S. for the funds which it 
has been husbanding for itself. If it is not just, neither is it 
safe. If there be trouble among the Banks, the only security 
is the Bank of the U. S. It holds its power as a trust for the 
ultimate protection of our banking system, the fate of which 
seems involved in that of the Bank of the U.S. and if we be- 
gin by venturing prematurely to the support of institutions 
which may be embarrassed, we may ourselves become too 
much weakened to make decisive efforts at a later stage of 
the disasters which are coming. 

Under these impressions, the Board have declined invari- 
ably for some time past numerous applications for loans from 
Banks. They think it decidedly best to abstain from making 
such loans. They think also that it is expedient to abstain 
from all pledges or promises of support to the Banks. We 
know not how far such engagements may lead us — and 
until the Bank is strong enough to make some general move- 
ment for the benefit of the country: were [such] palliatives 
would rather endanger us than do permanent benefit to 
them. We have been very anxious to make you strong — 



"To S. H, Smith 229 

and are very desirous that you should continue so — for 
which reason, we wish the Office to avoid every engagement 
that would commit Its funds. ... In fact, the examination of 
the subject to which your letter has given rise, has brought to 
my notice the circumstance that I have inadvertently omitted 
to apprize you of the wish of the Bank on the 22""^ of January 
last that you should bring your loans down fifty thousand dol- 
lars below the amount at which they were fixed in October — 
and I mention it now to show you that we have looked to a 
reduction rather than an expansion of your business. On the 
whole we should much prefer that you avoid all engagements 
either for general or particular support of the Banks. 

In respect to the balances too, we are anxious that they 
should not be suffered to accumulate — particularly as the 
want of confidence among the State Banks may make the 
Office the depository of their notes. Neither the notes nor the 
balances should remain long. The explosion of the Bank of 
Maryland found this Bank (at Phll^) In possession of ^21,000 
of its notes — and we shall in consequence pursue a course 
of more frequent settlements with the State Banks. .. 

I wish it were in my power to say that we might relieve the 
wants of the Banks near you. But I much fear that we could 
not do much ultimate good — and at the present moment 
we must avoid diminishing our means, so as to keep them 
unbroken when they may hereafter be most needed. 

BiDDLE TO S. H. Smith 

{confidential) Phil* April 11. 1834 

My dear sir 

The failure of the Bank of Washington confirms the 
opinion, entertained by you in regard to the District Banks 



230 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

— and I think renders more and more expedient the course 
recommended in my last. The Bank has been obliged to day 
to decline the same kind of assistance to a Bank in Baltimore. 
It becomes us to be specially careful of the Institution at the 
present moment, and that care I am sure you will always 
bestow. 

Thomas Cooper to BmoLE 

Columbia S. Carolina 
May I. 1834. 
Dear Sir 

The talking will go on in Congress till nothing is done 
and the members and the public become weary. In that case, 
Jackson will hold firm grasp of the public monies, and set the 
opposition at defiance. I have written to suggest a resolution, 
that no Appropriation bill be passed till Congress shall have 
provided by law for some safe deposit of the public monies, 
out of the controul of the President. '■ 

I now venture to suggest, whether in New York and Phila- 
delphia, a resolution might not be gotten up, to stop the cus- 
tom house collections, in case Congress breaks up, and leaves 
them in Jackson's power. Is there any other possible plan 
that will be efficient.^ I think the mercantile Interests maybe 
brought to do it. If Jackson obtains controul of the revenue 
we are defeated, and nothing but extensive bloodshed will 
preserve us from a permanent disposition. Assuredly, our 
present war of resolutions and proclamations will do us but 
little good. . . . 

I observe, all our delegation, Pinckney, Clowney, speak 
of your Bank in terms of highest respect, and w'^. willingly 
vote for an alteration of the Constitution in its favour: 



To yohn S. Smith 231 

but unless the north under Webster coalesce with Calhoun,^ 
nothing will be done this session, if at all. If Jackson seizes 
the revenue in spite of the Senate, and in defiance of a re- 
jection of the appropriation bill, the game is up, for he has 
the means and the inclination of buying up not merely politi- 
cal but military adherents ; and half measures will only plunge 
us deeper into the whirlpool destined to absorb what little 
of freedom remains. Adieu. 

BiDDLE TO John S. Smith 

Phil^May 9, 1834 
Dear sir 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
5*^ inst. and shall answer it cheerfully. And yet it is difficult 
to answer with certainty. The question you propose is "will 
" relief be afforded to the country by a restoration of the de- 
" posits to the B.U.S. and of harmony between it and the 
"Treasury, and this unconnected with the question of the 
" recharter." Now the mere deposit of accruing revenue in the 
Bank would not of itself justify any immediate expansion of 
the loans, unless taken as an evidence of a change of opinions 
or of feelings toward the Bank on the part of those who gov- 
ern at Washington. If there was a cordiality there — if there 
was merely a concession of the deliberate efforts to destroy 
the Bank which has been made for several years past, the 
Bank might be disposed to venture much to produce relief. 
At the same time the question of real and permanent stabil- 
ity to the currency is in fact the question of the recharter of 
the Bank — and I am satisfied that any thing short of this 

1 Calhoun's and Webster's plans are given in full in Cong. Doc, vol. x, pt. i, 
pp. 1004, 1005, 1067, 1068. 



C-g-n prcvi .. : : / / . : . . ; : >. I wi< • : .: : 

sccjething Trere i.T.e sccr.. r. r ^cr.~ ; .: ; ; cvil^ will grow 
endrehr beyocd oiiir coQtrol. Fcr me ct^ ^ D>or.dis past the 
Bink h^ bes^ exe^: : :?e^ to s;a\^ Iniiviiiiils ar.' :: 

severil nji^cir^c ^tite ixsils:$ ^re ierr to trj^n^er^-es, tr.e o.^r- 
fuiicc "nrZ b^one lojng p^e] irretneva^b'-e. This Bank is now 
verv strong — sni shall be kept so — it must be beyond ^e 
re^oh oi any possTo'ie risk, so as to interpose hereafter when 
the cccruson is no j,mcer snnerable- "liH then it niiist re- 
tahi a pctst^ .-iln: and «:n:e: strength — and loc^ on 

ansiocshr but ininjovabh". It wiH be : c have in its 



van-ts nearrr cne oo— ar m sr>eo: 



>. .<^ . ^ 



m 



•'-^^r;-.- 



^fy impressions then are these : 

If the Bank Charter were re : : : ; r .;noed — I he- 

Eeve the peonniarv d'~o:£hes of tne c.'untr.- vronld be ini- 
mediatehr h-eakd. 



seen af:^ it had made "_ v: v. I think the Bank would 
trre friei^diy cr n:: hostiie, wjuli I h~dnk saco^d in the 

could net either safely cr wisely change its nresent system. 



To R. M. Blatchford 2 3 3 

You will see in the frankness of these expressions the evi- 
dence of my confidence in your discretion and my expecta- 
tion that you will consider them as for yourself alone 

BiDDLE TO R. M Blatchford ^ 

Phil^ June 4-- 1834 
Dear Sir 

... In respect to the other subject of your letter, you 
will I think readily understand the position of the Bank. Be- 
lieving as we do that the whole support of the currency* must 
devolve on the B.U.S. and seeing as we think we do, that 
the disorders and troubles are but beginning, our great effort 
is to make the Bank not merely strong, but entirely be>^ond 
the reach of those who, under the name of the Gov^ are 
seeking its destruction In this operation the State Banks 
fall in debt. Now we must either settle with these Banks or 
let the debt increase 'till it may grow entirely beyond our 
control and beyond their means of payment. This is wrong 
in two respects — first, — because it is not just to the Stock- 
holders of the B.U.S. to give to others the gratuitous use of 
so large a portion of their capital — and second — because 
these large balances may become unsafe. For example, the 
Banks of the City of New York owe to the Branch Bank 
$700,000. Why should they be allowed to owe that sum? — 
and what will become of the debt if it be permitted to in- 
crease as it probably will to twice that sum.'* I believe that 
the State Banks themselves will be benefitted by the re- 
straint of being obliged to settle and so accommodate their 

* Distinguished lawyer in New York, father of the late Justice Samuel 
Blatchford, counsel for the Bank of the United States in New York, and great 
friend of Nicholas Biddle. Cf. sketch of life in Wilson, op. cit., vol. m, p. 490; voL 
IV, p. 613. 



2 34 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

business to their means. The Bank, as I am sure you are 
aware, is desirous of protecting the community from the 
mischief which threaten it, and has been constantly engaged 
in reheving the Banks and individuals whose solvency has 
been endangered by the measures of the Treasury. At the 
same time the Bank would injure itself & not benefit the 
country, if, after all the warnings which the State Banks as 
well as individuals have had to diminish their business & 
provide against the storm, it should venture on the Quixot- 
ism of preventing all inconvenience to the public from the 
measures intended to destroy the Institution. The course 
which circumstances seem to force upon the Bank is that of 
gradual & gentle dimlnition of its business, so as to be pre- 
pared to expand or to close its affairs as the country may de- 
sire hereafter. I pray you to believe that I shall always be 
happy to hear from you — and that I am 

BmDLE TO Solomon Etting ^ 

Phil^ June 12. 1834 
Dear Sir 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
10**" inst. which I assure you requires no apology, as I am al- 
ways not merely willing, but anxious to learn the opinion of 
judicious friends of the Bank. 

Since the Bank has ceased to be the . depository of the 
public revenue, the indulgence formerly given to the State 
Banks could scarcely be expected — as it would be unrea- 
sonable and unjust to the Stockholders of the Bank of the 
U.S. to let the State Banks have the use of a large part of 

1 A merchant of Baltimore and one of the directors of the Baltimore and 
Ohio Railroad. Cf. Scharf, J.Thomas, The Chronicles 0^ Baltimore (Baltimore, 1874). 



To Alexander Porter 235 

Its capital without interest, while they were making interest 
on it. The Board have therefore made a recent order for the 
periodical settlement of those balances from the State Banks. 
The general object was to keep down this accumulation of 
debt from those institutions — at the same time, nothing was 
more remote from the desire of the Bank than to oppress the 
State Institutions. On the contrary we should be disposed to 
give every reasonable facility in the settlement of the balances. 
It was probably some misapprehension of the design of the 
Bank which occasioned the excitement to which you allude 
& which I trust will cease when the nature of these periodical 
regulations of the balances is better known from practice. 

BmDLE TO Alexander Porter ^ 

Phil*. June 14. 1834 
Dear Sir 

The last mail brought me your favor of the 11*'' inst 
which shall not fail to receive immediate attention as soon 
as we hear from the Branch at New Orleans on the subject. 
As yet we have had no communication whatever in regard 
to it. 

I regret very much the decision of the House on M"" Clay's 
resolutions : for its effect will I fear be to render the state of 
the country much more embarrassing during the summer. 
The House have it now in their power, by passing those reso- 
lutions, to give immediate and general relief to the country. 
If the House by however small a majority, were to order 
the restoration of the Deposits, no matter whether it were 
vetoed or signed by the Pres^, it would not only relieve the 
Senate from the reproach of siding against the Pres\ and the 

^ Senator from Louisiana. 



236 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

people — but It would establish such a relation between the 
Congress and the Bank, as would induce the latter to make 
great efforts to restore confidence and prosperity. With such 
a vote of Congress, twenty-four hours would be sufficient to 
establish peace, and to Insure the return of better times for 
the country. On that subject my convictions are strong — 
and were it not for the misinterpretation to which It would 
be liable, I should go down & talk with you all about it. 

Do you think it practicable to carry the resolutions.? The 
majority was 20 which requires a change of only 11 votes. 
Now I have no doubt that many members like M"" King of 
Georgia, who are well disposed even to recharter the Bank, 
but despairing of the recharter, think the restoration of the 
deposites without being followed by a certainty of a rechar- 
ter, would benefit neither the country. In this they are mis- 
taken. I think for Instance I could venture to say that If such 
a vote were secured, the Bank would feel no reluctance In 
giving one, or If necessary, two millions of loans to Louisiana 
as requested for her relief. This could be done because such 
a vote is peace and harmony & confidence between the Bank 
& the Congress. In truth I know of no way in which all the 
Interest on the Western waters could be more Immediately & 
substantially advanced than by such a vote, which it would 
be in the power of Eleven men, who are sent to Congress to 
promote these Interests, to give in a few days. Could not that 
resolution be brought up.f* I should think there were men 
enough In the House to do that good service to their section 
of the country, even If it did cost them a frown at the Palace. 
If you suppose It Is at all feasible & that I can promote it, 
have the goodness to let me know — and in the mean time 
believe me 



To TVilliam Appleton 237 

BiDDLE TO William Appleton 

PhiK July 4^h 1834 
Dear Sir 

Your favor of the 27'^ ult° was duly received and the 
letter inclosed in it will not fail to receive the respectful at- 
tention due to the signers of it. 

The Board have deemed it inexpedient to change the course 
of the Bank during the session of Congress, but when it was 
ascertained that nothing could be done, upon the adjourn- 
ment, a Committee was appointed, to consider what measures 
would be necessary in consequence of that event. This Com- 
mittee will report in a few days, and in their deliberations, 
the views contained in the communication you have for- 
warded will have their due weight. In the mean time, I think 
it right to say that the paper is written under an entire mis- 
apprehension of the course and situation of the Bank. These 
gentlemen say "it is well understood that the Bank is pur- 
suing a regular system of curtailment apparently at the rate 
of about a million of dollars per month." Now the fact is that 
the Bank is not curtailing its business a single dollar; no cur- 
tailment of any description has been ordered since January 
last, and all that was then directed has with a few exceptions 
been executed, so that the Bank has not I believe a wish to 
reduce its present amount of loans and certainly has adopted 
no regular system of curtailment. In respect to your own 
OfHce, you know perfectly, that you have been under no 
restriction of any kind as to the amount of your loans, and 
that since the removal of the deposits, Boston is the only point 
in the whole establishment except Savannah (where the busi- 
ness voluntarily fell off after the run upon it) where no re- 



238 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

duction was directed, and it is moreover the only place where 
the discounts have increased, they being at this moment 
more than half a million of dollars beyond the amount in 
October. 

What has probably induced the belief of this curtailment is 
the diminition of the apparent aggregate of Loans in the pub- 
lished statements, but these intelligent men of business must 
perceive that this is the natural result of this season of the 
year of the maturity of the bills from the South, which can- 
not be replaced by other bills from the South, as the sea- 
son of purchasing them goes by, so that these reductions are 
not compulsory but voluntary and inevitable. Of the nature 
of these presumed curtailments I can offer no better illustra- 
tion than what is furnished by the accounts up to the i^^ of 
July now lying before me showing the following comparison 
of the discounts during the last month. 

Local Foreign 

Discounts Dom. Bills Totals Bills of Ecc. Aggregate 

June I, 1834 34,739,871.21 17,462,041.67 52,201,912.88 1,995,291.80. 54,197,204.68 

July I, 1834 34,423,921.72 16,601,051.00 51.021,972.72 3,827,413.03. 54,852,385.75 

315,949.49 860,990.67 1,176,940.16 1,832,121.23 655,181.07 

Now there is an actual increase of discounts (for the purchase 
of a foreign Bill is as much a loan as the purchase of an inland 
Bill) amounting to ^655,181.07, altho' of those two classes 
of Loans, the local discounts and Domestic Bills there is a 
diminition, but this diminition is voluntary, and so far as 
concerns the present subject is worth remarking. 

The whole diminition in local Discounts is 315)949-49 

of this the diminition at Boston is 201,137.13 

Now you are perfectly aware that the diminition was not 
directed, nor advised, nor suggested by the Bank — that as 
far as the Bank is concerned, it is voluntary and forms no 



7^ TVilliam Appleton 239 

part "of a regular system of curtailment." Again; the dimini- 
tion of the domestic bills is ^860,990.67. This is composed 
mainly of the diminished purchases at New Orleans, Mobile 
& Charleston to the amount of 851,024.05, of diminished pur- 
chases at other Western and South Western Offices amount- 
ing to 374,540.27. While at Boston your Domestic Bills of 
Exchange have increased ^385,091.28. Your aggregate busi- 
ness in local Discounts & Domestic Bills has increased ^127,- 
932.14 during the month of June — moreover the loans of 
the Office are larger, much larger than they generally are at 
this season of the year, thus, 

Totals 
1,080,533.60 
873,013.97 
2,006,430.91 
4,212,955.09 
2,839,595-98 

From all this, I think our friends will perceive — i^^ That 
the Bank is not pursuing any course of curtailment at all. 
2°^. That the last months operations have been in fact a con- 
siderable expansion of Loans — and 3'''^. that of all the Cities 
of the United States, that which has the least reason to 
complain is Boston — I say emphatically Boston, because 
Boston is the only Branch where no curtailments were 
ordered, the only Branch which has actually and largely 
increased its Loans — the only Branch which from the re- 
moval of the Deposits to the present day, has had no re- 
striction put upon the amount of its Loans. If the Board have 
found in the situation of the Branch enough to justify the 
exemption from these restraints, it was not certainly to be 
presumed the party most favored should most complain. 

Having said this much, I could wish to go no farther and 
yet I ought to add a few words more in regard to the sugges- 





Local Discounts 


Bills 


June 24, 1830 


563,349-59 


517,191.01 


30, 183 1 


259,428.86 


612,585.11 


28, 1832 


961,732.22 


1,044,698.69 


27, 1833 


770,071 


3,422,938.08 


26, 1834 


1,248,964.32 


1,587,631.16 



2 40 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

tion that " it may even create a necessity for the whigs self 
defence to separate themselves entirely from that Institu- 
tion." I regret extremely the use of such phrases since they 
resolve themselves at last into this, that if the Bank does not 
do what the Gentlemen wish, the political party to which 
they belong will denounce the Bank. Now it is true that the 
Gentlemen who administer the Bank concur in their indi- 
vidual characters with the party just named, and will al- 
ways be disposed to cooperate with them for general benefit, 
but nothing could be more immediately & decidedly fatal to 
that cooperation than the appearance of any disposition to 
coerce the Bank by political denunciations. If therefore any 
political party or association desires to separate itself from the 
Bank — be it so. The parting will be a source of deep regret, 
but there would be deeper regret at doing wrong to avoid 
it. The Bank looks only to what it views the interest of the 
Stockholders and of the country and it will never yield any 
part of those interests to create or relieve political friends. 
Already the very suggestion is calculated to be injurious. 
I did not even venture to read that letter to the Board, be- 
cause I knew that the tone of it would excite unpleasant feel- 
ings and that that portion of the Board connected with the 
Government might turn to the very great injury of the po- 
litical party, in whose name these Gentlemen speak, the dec- 
larations contained in it. For the same reason I make this 
a private letter to you, with liberty to communicate these 
explanations to them. They will I hope perceive in the tem- 
per which dictates them a very strong desire that they should 
be satisfied in regard to the general position of the Bank and 
especially of its disposition towards them and the community 
around them. If we are so unfortunate as to fail in this, and 



From R. Fisher 241 

are destined to have the ranks of the enemy swelled by alien- 
ated friends, much as we regret the accession of so much re- 
spectibility to the adverse party, we certainly will be less in- 
clined to capitulate to their hostility, than to yield to their 
friendly suggestions. In a few days I have to apprize you of 
the determination of the Board and mean while remain, with 
great regard 

R. Fisher ^ to Biddle 

New York July f^ 1834. 
My Dear Sir 

, . . Without further preface then I assure you, there 

is much dissatisfaction in this City and State among a very 

large portion of the friends of the Bank, and those of influence 

in the Whig party — and sure am I that it is increasing every 

day. 

Our Merchants and traders generally have been in hopes 
for some time past that circumstances might occur to pro- 
duce a change of Policy on the part of the Government to- 
wards the Bank — that some happy influence might have 
sprung up at Washington, and that light might have broken 
in upon the chaos, in which the dominant party are un- 
doubtedly involved. 

The adjournment of Congress has dissipated this forlorn 
hope, and they now begin to look to the present and the 
future — to the former suffering under a painful evil, and to 
the latter with increased anxiety and alarm. 

* Son of Miers Fisher, a distinguished lawyer. About 1830 Fisher moved to 
New York and established the daily paper the New York American Advocate and 
Journal which was afterwards named the New York Journal and Advertiser. He was 
a warm friend of Clay; was twice elected municipal judge, appointed Assistant Post- 
master of New York by President Tyler; and under President Taylor Appraiser 
of the Customs of Philadelphia. Simpson, Eminent Philadelphians, pp. 362-364. 



242 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

The language is general among them, "We have now no 
chance for relief, but from the Bank of the United States, 
which institution is called upon, we think by every considera- 
tion to extend its loans. As regards the Institution itself, the 
best informed Financiers in the City (among whom I name 
Mr Gallatin) declare that this can be done with perfect 
regard to the Safety of the Institution — and undoubtedly 
with the best possible policy. The Safety fund Banks of the 
State, under the influence of the Albany Regency,^ have 
considerably curtailed their issues — and refuse to extend 
them — throwing all the odium of the present extreme scar- 
city of money throughout this State upon your Bank. Gentle- 
men from many counties of the State have assured me, that 
the farmers — men of much influence, believe that their suf- 
fering is owing to that assigned cause. The Regency presses 
are daily filled with articles calculated to induce this opin- 
ion, and it is fast gaining ground — Nay, my informants go 
much further, and declare, that the Regency are delighted 
with the present state of things, and rely exultantly for their 
success upon its continuance, believing that they, through 
the State loan, can turn the relief to their great account. 
These are the opinions of men entirely friendly to the Bank 
— and they communicate their information with great re- 
luctance. In this City, I pray of you to be assured, such is the 
coincidence among our merchants in this opinion, and the ex- 
citement thence resulting, that I have no doubt measures will 
shortly be taken (should things remain as they are) that can- 
not fail to have the most unhappy effect upon the Bank, and 
the great cause of Constitutional freedom. Indeed I have 

» For the Albany Regency, cf. Alexander, De Alva S., A Political History of 
New York (New York, 1909), vol. I, pp. 293, 294, 324. 



"To jfames TV, Webb 243 

heard it talked of, among men of great influence, that a meet- 
ing of merchants will be publicly called to take into consider- 
tion what belongs to them to do for the relief of the Trading 
Community. There is much talk of taking up Jesse Buel for 
the Whig Candidate as Governor and some of our Politicians 
confidently say, if the Bank should continue its present course, 
it would best comport with his success to go — for A Na- 
tional Bank, and if not denounce the present one, at least 
to disavow publicly all connection with it. . . . 

BiDDLE TO James W. Webb 

Phil^ July 9^\ 1834 
Dear Sir 

I have this morning had the pleasure of receiving your 
favor of the %^^ inst. We have waited for the adjournment of 
Congress before taking any final course in regard to the Bank, 
because 'till then the movement of the Government was un- 
certain. The subject is now under examination by a Commit- 
tee of the Board who will probably report in a day or two. 
My own individual opinion is, that having reached the point 
of entire safety & being in some sort divorced from the Execu- 
tive, the Bank is now at liberty to consult exclusively the 
interest of the Stockholders and the Community. In such a 
state of things it seems inexpedient to impose or to continue 
curtailments merely for the sake of any eifect they might be 
presumed to produce abroad, and I shall not be surprized if 
further reductions of the loans should be suspended. No 
determination, however, is yet made, and therefore nothing 
should be said about it in your journal I should think at 
present. 



2 44 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Alexander Hamilton to John Woodworth ^ 

New York Sep'. 14. 1834. 
Dear Sir 

The success of your exertions at the ensuing election 
will mainly depend on the course to be pursued by the Bank; 
the Colera and the drought have done some service, but you 
alone can prevent an active fall trade In our agricultural prod- 
ucts. The regency have resolved, through the Safety Fund 
Banks, to grant every facility to raise. If possible, the price 
of grain about the commencement of October, in order to 
satisfy the farming Interest that our embarrassments have 
passed away and that their policy had placed the future 
prosperity of the country on a permanent footing — this Im- 
pression Is now gaining ground and unless counteracted will 
give us an uphill labour — ... 

... It has been found expedient to abandon the Bank in 
our political pilgramage. The people are now familiarly ac- 
quainted with the immense power of a national bank and ap- 
prehend all kinds of terrible consequences from its exercise, 
without ever reflecting that in every human institution, pos- 
sessing the ability to do much good, their must necessarily 
exist the power to do essential mischief, and that all legisla- 
tion is more or less subject to the same charge. . . . 

Biddle to Silas M. Stilwell 

PhiI^ Oct 30. 1834. 
Dear Sir 

I received yesterday your favor of the 27*^ inst which 
was forthwith disposed of as requested. 

* Distinguished lawyer of New York. 



From Roswell L, Colt 245 

On the subject of aid from this quarter the fact is, I under- 
stand, that the contributions fall on a very narrow circle of 
not wealthy people — and that on the late occasion they have 
been completely exhausted and a little dispirited that their 
exertions have proved so little productive in proportion to 
their expectations. I should not think it at all probable that 
any thing further could be obtained from them. As to the 
Bank itself, I have always made it a point of duty never to 
permit its interference in any manner with our political con- 
cerns. It was a refusal to become partizans to the present set in 
power which has made them its enemies, and it will persevere 
in the same neutrality to the end — altho' all the temptations 
to depart from that course are obvious & strong, & however 
much the consequences may be deplored of the present mis- 
rule. We shall not look with less anxiety however on your 
great struggle, on which the fate of the country now in a 
great degree depends. With the hope that you and the 
good cause you support may triumph in that struggle,^ I 
remain 

RoswELL L. Colt to Biddle ^ 

Bal. 13 Nov 1834 
My dear Sir 

. . . The more I have thought about the Bank, the 
better I like your idea of applying to your State for a Charter 
for 35 Millions — for a Bank to be called the Bank of the U S. 
Penn^ to subscribe 7 Millions pay*^ in a Stock bearing 41/2 

1 The followers of the Bank were defeated in the fall election by an over- 
whelming vote. 

2 This letter is the first intimation we have in the Biddle correspondence that 
the President of the Bank was contemplating an attempt to have the Bank chart- 
ered by the State of Pennsylvania. 



246 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

percts Interest or even 4 — having the Same time to run, 
they grant the Charter, pledging the faith of the State for 
Said Debt, & the accruing Dividends toward part of Inter- 
est, — this would give your State at least 200,000 a Year as 
a Bonus, the present private Stockholders of the B U S to 
have the right to subscribe for the Same number of Shares 
in the New Bank they now hold in the Old — the unsub- 
scribed Stock to belong to the Corporation with right to Sell 
as they think proper — the Bank to have the right to es- 
tablish Branches in all States permitting, & agencies every 
where on such terms as may be agreed upon. I feel persuaded 
' all the States but N York would grant such privilege & if 
the[y] refused, place an Agency there — we would grant 
You the Charter here at once. 

Biddle to ^ 

PhiK Jany 7. 1835 
Gentlemen, 

I had this morning the pleasure of receiving your let- 
ter of the 5*^^ inst in which you apprize me that you had been 
informed that the Stockholders of the U.S. Bank would ac- 
cept a charter from this State and you request to know from 
me on what terms this can be effected — especially mention- 
ing the number of years of the charter with which the Bank 
would be satisfied — the amount of capital — as well as the 
premium & other encouragements that would be given to 
the State in consideration of it. 

Having long had reflected much on this subject,^ I will 
answer promptly & without reserve. 

1 This letter was evidently a draft of one sent to the committee on banks in 
Harrisburg. 

2 It was Matthew St. Clair Clarke who first suggested to Biddle the advisability 



To 



247 



For a variety of reasons, which I forbear to state because 
your duties have made you familiar with them, I believe It to 
be of the greatest Importance to our State to appropriate to 
Its own benefit the Capital of the Bank of the U.S. which Is 
about to be distributed & can never be recalled If It once 
leaves the State. 

I believe that considering the general growth of the whole 
Union — and the extraordinary resources of Penn^ which 
require only capital to develope them — the sum of ten mil- 
lions which formed the capital of the first Bank In 1791 — 
and the sum of 35 millions which formed the capital of the 
present Bank In 1816 was not more than the equivalent of 
100 millions at this time — and that the present Institution 
might with great safety & with great advantage be gradually 
Increased to fifty millions to an amount not disproportionate 

of securing a charter from the State of Pennsylvania. Clarke was a co-worker of 
Peter Force and aided the latter in collecting and publishing the former's great 
work American Archives, a Documentary History of the English Colonies of North 
America. On October 30, 1832, Clarke wrote to Biddle as follows: "I need only 
give the outline of what I consider a splendid operation. Only remember / have 
given it. Let our State of Pennsylvania charter the U.S. Bank, less the Gov* Stock 
— and in place of Branches, out of the State — create Agencies — or whatever you 
please to call them. . . . Let the State lay out the Bonus in Internal Improvements 
and make yourself 'a name & praise among the nations of the Earth.' " 

This suggestion evidently impressed Biddle as the above letter and the fol- 
lowing actions of the Bank disclose. Moreover, the economic and political aspect 
of the State favored the Bank men at this particular time. Pennsylvania was al- 
ready engulfed in the vast internal improvement speculation which characterized 
these years and was just beginning to feel the effects of her folly. With her com- 
merce sinking beneath the pecuniary agitation of the thirties, her treasury bank- 
rupt, and her citizens overburdened with taxes, the Pennsylvania Legislature was 
willing to listen to Nicholas Biddle. Furthermore, the Anti-Masonic Party had 
elected their man, Joseph Ritner, as governor upon an implied promise not to in- 
crease the debt nor the taxes, and as the Whigs and Anti-Masons had been voting 
together on all measures since 1832 under the able leadership of Thaddeus Stevens, 
Biddle might well deem the time propitious. Cf. Harrisburgh Chronicle, May, 
1836; McCarthy, Charles, The Antimasonic Party, in American Historical Asso- 
ciation, Annual Report, vol. l (Washington, 1902), pp. 461, 488. 



248 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

when it Is considered how large a sum could be used for the 
general purposes of trade, manufactures & agriculture — 
how much might be advanced to the State for the completion 
of its great Plans of improvement — how large a portion 
might be given to private associations for rail roads & canals 
& other objects of general benefit & how much might be ju- 
diciously advanced to individuals in the interior for Improve- 
ments which tho' private in their nature are public in their 
results. I believe that to give permanancy & solidity to the 
fiscal arrangements of the State it would be greatly for Its 
interest to extend the charter to thirty years. 

I have accordingly endeavored to estimate the value of such 
a charter — & I have made up my mind to this conclusion 
which I mention to you at once — because I have not the 
least ambition to make any arrangement not mutually ad- 
vantageous & because after all the benefit of this measure to 
the Commonwealth In Its schemes of Improvement is far 
greater than the mere price which may be paid for the char- 
ter. The question you will perceive Is, what Inducement ^ 
can be offered to the Stockholders in other parts of the U.S. 
or in Europe to leave his funds in Penn^. rather than take 
them home to be employed in other States — and then what 
reason can be given for accepting a charter from Penn^ rather 
from any other of the 24 States having an equal with Penn^ 
to give the charter. As a Pennsylvanian devotedly attached 
to her interests & her fame I would give more to Penn^. than 
to any other State for a Charter — and my effort would be to 
induce all the other Stockholders to prefer that arrange- 

* New York and later Maryland made generous offers to Biddle when the 
bill to re-charter the Bank was finally presented to the Pennsylvania Legislature. 
Both states were most desirous of securing the institution. 



ro 



2+9 



ment to either a division of the funds or the acceptance of a 
charter from any other State. To do which It would be neces- 
sary to render the terms beneficial to the State yet not too 
burdensome to the Stockholder.* 

For a charter from Penn^. for the amount of Stock held 
by individuals with a power of gradual increase to fifty mil- 
lions of dollars, and for thirty years, I would recommend to 
the Stockholders the following terms. 

To give to the State ^2,000,000 either In cash on the day 
when the charter was accepted, or in instalments one fourth 
cash & the rest In equal payments at six — twelve & 18 
months, the sum of 2,000,000. To lend to the State when- 
ever wanted six millions of dollars taking their Stock, which 
need not be repaid before the expiration of the charter, at 
five per cent, which interest payable semi annually & giving 
a premium of ten per cent — or if more agreeable to take a 
four per cent stock at par. 

To subscribe the sum of one million to the stock of any 
rail roads or canal companies which the State might elect as 
w^orthy of particular patronage and 

To advance at all times to the State a temporary loan of 
Five hundred thousand at five per cent 

Allow me in conclusion to suggest one very Important con- 
sideration. It Is this. The charter of the Bank expires on the 
4'^ of March. The Stockholders are already summoned to 
meet on the 17*^^ of February to make preparations for the 
dissolution of the Bank & some final decision will probably 
be then made for either the division of the funds or an appli- 
cation for a charter from some other authority. It would 
therefore be highly desirable that the final action of the legis- 
lature should be known at that period, so that an immediate 



250 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

acceptance of the charter may be made — or ulterior meas- 
ures be adopted. 

I need not say that In this frank exposition I speak only 
my own sentiments — I believe such an arrangement would 
be beneficial to the State and as such it might be offered & 
would be accepted. 

* As far as I understand the financial position of the State 
it is that a large amount of funds is invested in improvements 
which do not yet defray their own expenses, but will do so when 
the whole scheme of improvements is finished. It Is desirable 
therefore to make arrangements for the completion of the 
improvements and until they become more productive to sup- 
ply the deficiency of income over expenditure. Both these ob- 
jects would I think be attained by the following arrangement. 

Daniel Webster (.?) to Biddle 

Private Boston May 9. 1835 

My Dear Sir 

It appears to me that our political affairs are taking a 
very decided turn, & that If nothing be done to check the cur- 
rent, Mr V.B. will be elected President, by a vast majority. It 
is entirely obvious, I think, that the movement of the South- 
ern Whigs ^ (as they call themselves) in Mr White's favor 
has disgusted, deeply, the whole body of our friends in the 
North. Such papers as the Richmond Whig & Telegraph have 
endeavored to persuade the People that the question is nar- 
rowed down to a choice between Judge White & Mr. V. 
Buren, & If this be the only issue presented, there is already 
abundant indication that the whole north, east, & middle too, 

1 On the Southern Whigs as a political force, of. Cole, Arthur C, The Whig 
Party in the South (Washington, 1913). 



From Daniel TVebster 251 

as I believe, will go for V.B. I do not know whether any thing 
can be done to change the course of things; but I am fully 
persuaded, that if any thing can be done, it is be done in 
Penn^. Your people are awake to political subjects, in conse- 
quence of the pendency of an election for Gov^ If those who 
are likely to unite in support of M"^ Ritner could unite also 
in making some demonstration, on National Subjects, & do 
it immediately, it might possibly have some effect. Whether 
this be practicable is more than I know. 

I have thought it right. My Dear Sir, to express to you 
my opinion, thus freely, on the present State, & apparent tend- 
ency, of things. Our friends here receive letters, every day, 
& from P^. as well as from other quarters, calling on them 
to do more, & say more. But they hardly see what more they 
can do, or say. The sentiment of Massachusetts is known; & 
it would seem to be for the consideration of others, whether 
it should be seconded. 

You will of course, hum this^ & let no eye but your own 
see it. You can judge whether any thing can be usefully done. 
For my part, I confess, it looks to me as if the whole Whig 
Strength in the Country was either to be frittered away, or 
melt into the support of Mr V. Buren. 

Daniel Webster (?) to BmDLE 

Private Boston May 12. '35 

D'^Sir 

One word more on political subjects. It seems truly 
lamentable that the Nat. Intelligencer should be so unwilling 
to give, or take, tone, on questions most interesting to us, as 
a party. Cannot this reluctance be overcome ? — If Mess" 

^ This is a characteristic entry for a Webster letter. 



2 52 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

G. & S. are not disposed to support, at present, any named 
candidate, they might, at least, preach the necessity of sup- 
porting a Whig Candidate — some Whig Candidate. We are 
in danger of breaking up, & dividing. Our natural field mar- 
shall — he that should rally & encourage us, is the leading 
paper on our side. But this natural leader seems at present to 
be without any "objects, and, aim." 

I mention this matter to you, because you can judge, as 
well as any one, whether the subject deems any attention; 
& If it do, can, better than any one, give an availing hints, 
in the right quarter, hum. 

Biddle to D. Sprigg 

Phil^May 13. 1835 
Dear Sir 

I have received your favor of the 8*^^ ins*^. and shall 
reply to it without the least reserve. 

In closing the concerns of the Bank, my great anxiety Is to 
take care of Its faithful Officers, and any thing which I can 
do to serve them, I will do most promptly and willingly. In 
your own particular case, I am not the less desirous of serving 
you because you have been comparatively a short time with 
us, for you have connected your fortunes with the Institu- 
tion, and that is Itself a claim upon me. My impression then 
is, that the Branch in Buffalo will be soon closed, and that 
in the contingency of a renewed charter under a state, the 
agencies of the Bank would be confined to the most mercan- 
tile points, as the general superintendence of the currency 
will no longer devolve on the Bank: so that the Bank would 
not require your services at Buffalo. I wish therefore that 
you may succeed In your application for the Cashiership of 



To jfohn Huske 253 

the Bank in Baltimore — and I will do all in my power to 
promote your views by communicating with M^ Anderson. 
You will receive from M^ Jaudon by to-days mail a sugges- 
tion with respect to another Bank, where he thinks you might 
be well placed. In short I beg you to believe that it will af- 
ford me very great pleasure to promote your views, being, 
with sincere regard ^ 

Edward Everett to BmoLE 

Charlestown Mass^^ 
3 June 1835. 
My dear Sir, 

The Ohio Legislature is soon to convene. The Whigs 
there are now In a majority. I see in a Pittsburg paper a 
very important Suggestion, which has been repeated or made 
simultaneously in some others, that if the Whigs at Colum- 
bus, at this approaching session, would nominate MrW. and 
Gen^ Harrison as Vice P. it would have a very decisive effect. 
If you should be of this opinion, cannot you drop a line to 
some considerate & influential persons, — members of the 
legislature or others, — at Columbus.^ 

There is really strength enough in the Country, to elect Mr 
W., if it could be concentrated & cordially united, in his support. 

BiDDLE TO John Huske 

Phil^ Aug^^ 6*\ 1835 
Dear Sir 

... In regard to the offer from the State Bank of the 
Presidency of the Branch at Fayetteville, I think you should 
not hesitate to accept it. My great anxiety now is, that the 

^ This letter is characteristic of the generosity and thoughtf ulness of Biddle in his 
dealings with his friends and especially with all those connected with the institution. 



2 54 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Officers of the Bank should be able to separate from it with 
the least possible inconvenience to themselves — and I am 
anxious particularly that they should lose no opportunity 
of obtaining proper employment elsewhere. If therefore the 
situation offered be in other respects satisfactory, there is 
nothing in your relations with the Bank that should induce 
you to decline it. 

This brings me to another matter connected with it on 
which I proposed to write to you. We are now making 
arrangements with several of the new Banks to purchase 
the whole establishment of the Office near them — banking 
house, debts & all. This plan Is very advantageous to the 
new Bank which thus succeeds to the standing, capital, de- 
posits & custom of the Office, & to the Bank of the U.S. it 
possesses the attraction of enabling them to close the Office 
at once. As an example of such a settlement, I will mention 
what has just taken place at Lexington, Kentucky. The Pres- 
ident & Cashier of the Office have been appointed President 
& Cashier of the Northern Bank of Kentucky — and that 
Institution has agreed to take the Banking House at the valu- 
ation hitherto put up upon it in our schedules — & also to 
take the whole of the current debt — not including of course 
the domestic bills — at its nominal amount, giving the notes 
of the Bank of Kentucky payable in i, 2, 3, & 4 years with 
interest at five per cent. The suspended debt the Bank of 
Kentucky agrees to manage and collect without charge. 

Now, if you could make a similar arrangement with the 
Bank of the State or any other institution, it would be satis- 
factory to us. 

Let me hear from you soon on this subject & believe me 
meanwhile 



To Herman Cope 255 

BiDDLE TO HeRJVIAN CoPE 

PhiK Aug^' II. 183s 
My dear Sir 

. . . My theory in regard to the present condition of 
the country is in a few words this.^ For the last few years 
the Executive power of the Gov^. has been weilded by a mere 
gang of banditte. I know these people perfectly — keep the 
police on them constantly — and in my deliberate judgment, 
there is not on the face of the earth a more profligate crew 
than those who now govern the President. The question is 
how to expel them. I believe that a very large majority not 
merely of the intelligence and the property, but of the num- 
bers of our countrymen, are disposed to expel them. It re- 
mains to see how that majority can be concentrated so as to 
be effectual. As yet the opinions of the opposition are un- 
formed. No man as yet can combine them : they are not fixed 
on any one man. But they are fixed on several men who are 
acceptable to various sections. Then the obvious course is, to 
make these several men in the first instance embody under 
them the force of these various sections — and when the 
common enemy approaches to rally under a leader of their 
own choice. It is manifestly advantageous to let M"" Web- 
ster lead the New England forces, M"" White the Southwest, 
or South — and wherever in any one State there is a strong 
opposition man — to vote for him as such — and settle the 
pretensions of the chiefs afterwards. I have said again and 
again to my friends, I have said it this very morning, "This 
disease is to be treated as a local disorder — apply local 
remedies — if Gen'. Harrison will run better than any body 

* Cf. Letter of Everett to Biddle, June 3, 1835. 



256 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

else in Penns^., by all means unite upon him." That as far as I 
understand the case, is the feeling very generally of the op- 
position & Gen' Harrison must not suppose that there is in 
this quarter any unwillingness to give him fair play. On the 
contrary, he is very much respected, and if our friends are 
satisfied that he can get more votes in Penns^ than any other 
candidate of the opposition they will take him up cheerfully 
& support him cordially. 

I have but one remark more to make. If Gen'. Harrison is 
taken up as a candidate, it will be on account of the past, 
not the future. Let him then rely entirely on the past. Let 
him say not one single word about his principles, or his creed 
— let him say nothing — promise nothing.^ Let no Com- 
mittee, no convention — no town meeting ever extract from 
him a single word, about what he thinks now, or what he will 
do hereafter. Let the use of pen and ink be wholly forbidden 
as if he were a mad poet in Bedlam. Gen'. Harrison can speak 
well & write well — but on this occasion he should neither 
speak nor write — but be silent — absolutely and inflexibly 
silent. . . . 

John Norris to Biddle 

Mifflin County 
Browns Mills 16'^ November 1835 
dear Sir, 

... I have not a doubt but the Legislature of New 
York would offer at once a most favorable charter for the 
whole twenty eight million : for they have intelligent men 
enough to take advantage of everything that would have a 

' This advice shows that Biddle 's idea of a campaign was similar to that of 
Mark Hanna when the latter was managing the candidacy of McKinley. 



From Charles August Davis 257 

tendency to increase their wealth & influence in the Union 
— whether by commerce, manufactures, or internal im- 
provement.^ . . . 

Jasper Harding to Biddle 

Philad. Dec. 4. 1835 
Dear Sir 

I have just returned from Harrisburg — every thing 
looks as favourable as could be expected, through the kind- 
ness of the Speaker, Mr Middlesworth ^ I obtained last 
evening a copy of the committees of the House in confidence, 
not to show it in Harrisburg to injure him, before it was an- 
nounced from the chair, I send you a proof slip — Pen- 
nepacker the chairman on Banks is a very clever country 
member I should think not disposed to throw difficulties in 
the way. Mr Lawrence requested me to give you his best 
respects. 

Charles August Davis to Biddle 

Private New York 6 Dec. 1835 

My D^ Sir 

. . . The opinion rapidly obtains here that Pen^. will 
grant you a Charter if Congress declines acting in the mat- 
ter — and I dont believe one man in a thousand here identi- 
fied with Trade but w^. rejoice in it — and every time I am 
ask'd about it — my answer is — that such will no doubt 

^ The movement for re-charter began in November of 1835. In the early part 
of the month Nicholas Biddle began to receive letters from friends both within 
the state and in New York advising him to petition the next session of the Penn- 
sylvania Legislature, composed, as it was, of "flexible material." Since New York 
seemed specially anxious for a charter, as the above letter indicates, the President 
used it to good advantage on the home Assembly. 

2 An old Anti-Masonic leader. 



258 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

occur provided the State could secure your services and name 
to preside over the Bank — but I doubted if you w*^. assent 
— that from all I can gather, you Intended to wind up the 
present Institution — and then devote yourself to higher 
pursuits than the Story of Banking. It does me good to worry 
the dogs on this point — a few evenings since dining at the 
Mayors (where were present the delegation to the Legislature 
& "other leaders of the party") I took occasion to reply thus 
to the Enquiry — and as It was a "winder up" it seem'd to 
me the ''^Chateau''* tasted better to me afterwards. 

William B. Reed ^ to Biddle 

Harrlsburg. Dec'. 12. 1835. 
Dear Sir, 

I have Intended from day to day to write to you, but 
the very caution and reserve which we are obliged to main- 
tain in relation to the Bank measure operate to prevent any 
development of feeling and opinion, worth communicating. 
I now esteem It especially fortunate that a friend of the Bank 
was placed at the head of the Improvement Committee. 
That is the only engine on which we can rely and if it fails we 
have no chance. Every one at all acquainted with matters 
and things here, particularly of late years since the Canal 
policy has been pursued, knows that the temptation of a turn- 
pike, or a few miles of canal and rail road as a beginning on a 
favorite route Is nearly irresistible, and I am strongly inclined 
to think that now a few of the many members who have toiled 
year after year for branches, and who look to this session as 

1 Chairman of the Inland Navigation Committee; later Minister to China. 
Cf. sketch of life in Scharf and Westcott, History oj Philadelphia, vol. I, pp. 656, 
721-725, 731, 732; vol. II, p. 1 167. 



From JVilliam B. Reed 259 

their last chance could vote against legislation that would 
give them their extensions and entrench upon nothing but 
party prejudices and antipathies. If this feeling cannot be 
operated on, none other can. An this applies to those who are 
here not as friends of the state administration and who per- 
haps not being unwilling to see it embarassed could not be 
operated upon by the measure, if its effect was to be merely 
a general relief from taxation. A reference to the map and 
the Senatorial Districts will illustrate this. The Southern line 
of Rail Road to connect through York and Gettysburg with 
the Baltimore and Ohio Rail Road and thence down the 
Younghegany to Pittsburg would of itself affect the votes of 
at least three if not four Senators. So with the Erie extension 
the North Branch, the West Branch survey (all that that Dis- 
trict wants). With respect to all these new lines it must be 
borne in mind that the commencement of the work is all that 
will be wanted. To be able to go home and boast of having 
made a beginning is all that is needed. . . . There Is another in- 
terest too which must not be overlooked in the Turnpikes — 
relief to them no matter how small a pittance, will be most 
gratefully received. By the bye, I understand the Canal 
Commissioners, in their Report take up the tune of the 
Message and assuming the abundance of funds recommend 
all the extensions as a matter of course. 

With all these views you will easily understand why I con- 
sider the Improvement Committee, aided as it may be by 
the Committee of Ways and Means, a powerful engine to ef- 
fect our purpose. I shall be glad to have your views in strict 
confidence as to the course which true policy dictates as re- 
spects new banks and increased capital. Petitions are rush- 
ing in upon us from all quarters. The Chairman of the Com- 



2 6o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

mittee on Banks, M"" Pennypacker, is one of the soundest 
men we have. His idea is to delay action even in Committee 
upon all these new banks, and having ascertained the precise 
amount of proposed capital to use it as an argument for the 
U.S. Bank. This may do very well so far as our city is con- 
cerned but I am inclined to doubt the policy in its general 
application. For example a very strong and respectable ap- 
plication has been made for a new bank at Pittsburg where 
it seems to be conceded since the closing of the branch that 
more banking capital is needed. From what I learn from 
third persons I find that all the Pittsburg members and their 
friends in the lobby attribute the dilatory action of the Com- 
mittee who have refused thus far to report a bill, to a secret 
design on the part of the friends of the U.S.B. to promote 
its views. They are consequently utterly opposed to the char- 
ter. All this I hear indirectly but still I can depend on it. 
Would it not be better in such a case only, for the friends of 
the U.S.B. to gain the Pittsburg influence by aiding their 
project? 

I shall be very glad to have your views on this subject par- 
ticularly as well as on all others connected with the great 
object we have in view. Whatever you may write I shall 
consider strictly confidential and for my own guidance. It is 
however essential that I should be fully apprised of all your 
views. ... 

You are at liberty to show this letter to M"" Sergeant & to 
any of our common friends.^ 

1 Biddle had already presented some of the members of the committee with 
an account of a proposed charter according to which the new corporation, with a 
capital of fifty millions, chartered for thirty years, would give two millions in cash 
to the state on the day it was incorporated, and furthermore would make liberal 
concessions to various internal improvement proposals. This outline was "sus- 



To yoseph Mcllvaine 261 

BiDDLE TO William B. Reed 

PhiK Jany 15^^ 1836 
Dear sir 

I have just seen a letter from Harrisburg stating that 
in a bill for chartering the Bank of the U.S. which is under- 
stood to be now before a Committee of which you are Chair- 
man, it is contemplated to introduce a provision ^ that if the 
Bank "interferes with politics, its charter may be repealed'* 
— and another "prohibiting the Bank from publishing docu- 
ments." I lose no time in stating to you, that if such provi- 
sions, or any thing in the remotest degree resembling them 
shall be put into the charter, it will be instantly rejected by 
the Stockholders. They have not asked for this charter — and 
certainly could not accept it on terms which might be con- 
strued into a reproach on their past administration of its 
affairs 

BiDDLE TO Joseph McIlvaine 

PhiK Jan^ 15. 1836 
Dear Sir 

I refer you to M*" Wallace for the views entertained of 

ceptible of further compression," wrote Biddle to Mcllvaine, Biddle's charge at 
Harrisburg, but the latter was urged to call the attention of the friends of the meas- 
ure to the sound reasons why the Bank ought to be re-chartered by Pennsylvania. 
These were: (i) that Pennsylvania would thus become wealthy and surpass New 
York; (2) no fear of foreign capital, since Europeans had already aided Pennsyl- 
vania in internal improvements; (3) Philadelphia had always been the seat of the 
Bank and would become the center of finances if she re-chartered the institution; 
(4) that New York's attacks were only designed to break down the Bank in Penn- 
sylvania in order to obtain one in New York; (5) a dissolution would mean the loss 
of thirty-five million, since foreign stockholders would not support a bank in which 
they had no confidence. Moreover, the bill was first discussed only by friends of the 
Bank in the committee without the others being fully informed on the topic. 
* These provisions were suggested by Governor Ritner and Thaddeus Stevens. 



2 62 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

the changes In the bill as stated In your letter of the 13'^'' Ins*. 
These are entirely unexpected and I consider them fatal 
to the whole plan. If the Congress of the U.S. passed the 
bill In 1832 by large majorities In both houses without an- 
nexing such conditions, there is no reason why the legislature 
of Penns^. should propose them — and still less reason for 
our submitting to them. As restrictions, they are unavailing 
— as Indications of opinion, they are offensive; and a single 
word on that subject causes the immediate rejection of the 
Act by the Stockholders. I have so written to M"" Reed. Un- 
less therefore these Ideas be totally abandoned, I wish the 
question of the Bank withdrawn, as It seems useless to pro- 
long a negoclation which must be abortive. 

John B. Wallace to Biddle 

Harrisburg January 18 1836 
Dear Sir 

Upon conferring with M"" Stevens to-day he agreed 
without difficulty to waive the section respecting political In- 
terferences etc. The Internal Improvement committee are 
now sitting upon the bill — It will go through that committee 
to-night & be reported to the House tomorrow — as little de- 
lay as possible will take place In urging It through the house. 
It may be detained longer In the Senate, but Its friends will 
push it as fast as possible. It Is expedient to do so — as It is 
obvious an organized opposition originating at Washington, 
Is getting up — and as little time as possible must be allowed 
for It to operate upon the Senate — So soon as the bill is 
printed, a copy will be sent you. . . . 



To yoseph Mcllvaine 263 

John B. Wallace to Biddle 

Harrisburg — January 19. 1836 
Dear Sir 

As you are well Informed by others of the state of things 

here, I do not trouble you with a recital of what you know. I 

may however add my decided opinion that the bill ^ is safe 

— unless something entirely unexpected occur — Washington 

influence, county meetings etc will not prevent it — ... If the 

government of the U.S. had had as able a charge at Paris as 

you have in M'^Ilvalne here, our relations with France ^ would 

have been in a very different situation from what they are. 

BmDLE TO Joseph McIlvaine 

PhlK Jany 31. 1836 
Dear Sir, 

Since writing to you this afternoon, I have heard some 
matters about the Bill which have changed my views of its 
actual position — and produced a corresponding alteration 

^ The bill was introduced on this date. The title of the act of incorporation 
was unique. It was styled "An Act to Repeal the State Tax on Real & Personal 
Property and to continue & extend the improvements of the State by Railroads 
& Canals, and to charter a State Bank to be called the United States Bank." In 
other words, the re-charter articles, drawn up with consummate skill by those per- 
fectly conversant with the subject, appeared as clauses in a general appropriation 
measure. But this did not deceive the citizens of the state nor the nation at large. 
On January 5, the Richmond Enquirer had called the attention of the people of 
Pennsylvania to the need of stability in the legislature on account of the devious 
maneuvers of the old Bank. The Bank papers might remain silent on the topic, but 
the presence of lobbyists at Harrisburg and the fact that the stock had risen from 
no to 118 in a few days were signs that could not be mistaken. Public meetings 
had been held for the purpose of proclaiming that the people had "no principles 
to barter for gold"; and everything had been done to arouse the people to a sense 
of their duties. Cf. American Sentinel, January 21, 25, 1836; Pennsylvanian, Janu- 
ary 9, 15, 18, 22, 1836. 

* The subject of President Jackson's relations with France are discussed in 
MacDonald, William, Jacksonian Democracy (New York, 1907), pp. 204-209; 
Sumner, W. G., Andrew Jackson (Boston, 1898), pp. 402-439. 



264 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

in the intentions announced in my letter. The interests de- 
pending on the event are too important to omit any proper 
opportunity of promoting it — and I therefore strengthen 
your hands with the inclosed which you will use discreetly & 
only in case it should be necessary.^ 

Charles S. Baker ^ to Biddle 

Harrisburgh Friday evening 
February 5'^ 1836 
Dear Sir 

Yesterday and to day has been spent in Skirmishing 
— the troops being raw thay could not be brought to close 
action — a counsel of war has been held and it has been 
resolved to force the matter to-morrow. Burden ^ is to lead 
on and I assure you he is in a happy state of mind to per- 
form that service. M"" Penrose is now all confidence and in 
conjunction with D"" Burden & M"" Stevens is now engaged in 
arraigning every thing for to morrow. A test vote will be 
brought to beare upon the matter to-morrow and I think 
will evidence we are Strong, very strong, in the Senate — 
success I consider certain. 

' This letter refers to the chief difficulty encountered by the friends of the 
bill in the committee stage in the Senate. Senator Dickey stated his determination 
to have a branch in Beaver County. This the noble Senator declared was his 
sine qua non, as it was the only possible excuse he could offer his constituents for his 
vote. Mcllvaine acknowledged the justice of the Senator's contention, expecially as 
the latter threatened to vote against the bill and carry two votes with him. Biddle, 
in reply to a request for advice from his charge, stated that he was not opposed to a 
branch at Beaver, but to the naming of a branch anywhere which might lead to 
the naming of others. Still, if the Senator insisted upon it, Biddle was willing to 
agree and wrote the above letter to Mcllvaine. For a careful discussion of this sub- 
ject, cf . Report of the Select Committee Relative to the United States Bank together with 
the Testimony taken in Relation thereto (Paterson, 1837), p. 5. 

2 A Whig member later voted against the passage of the bill. A defense of his 
position is given in the Pennsylvanian, February 26, 1836. 

^ Representatives from the County of Philadelphia in the Senate. 



From Samuel R. TVood 265 

John McKim Jr. to Biddle 

Baltimore Feby 6'*^ 1836 
Dear Sir 

As I wrote to you on the 3"^ In^^ that a favourable 
Charter for the Bank of the United States could be obtained 
in this State, I have since Indeavoured to find out what could 
be done at Annapolis, as our Legislature our much in favour 
of the Bank of the United States and the following is the 
Result of my Enquire 

A Charter could it is Believed be obtained on the following 
terms, 

V^ Individual Stock to the Am*, of 28 Millions 

2^ A State Subscription for 7 Millions, Payable in 5 pr c* 
State Stock, Redeemable at the time of the Expiration of 
the Charter. 

3*^. The Charter to continue for 30 years 

4*^. The Company to have Liberty, to Establish Branches 
or Agencies, in A State or Territory of the United States, 
Who Will give Liberty to them to do so. 

5*^. The Corporation, Will annualy Pay to the State the 
sum of one Hundred Thousand Dollars during the Existance 
of its Charter. . . . 

Samuel R. Wood to Biddle 

Harrisburg 2mo loth 1836 
My dear friend 

I wrote to thee yesterday by Jacob Louder who left 
at Midnight and who was to leave my letter & others at 
Smith & Hodgson's store and I hope thee got it early in 
evening. 



2 66 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

A strange scene has been played off In Senate this day. 
After the usual morning business Mr Fullerton of Franklin 
Co. rose In his place and said, that the Reporter & Journal of 
yesterday contained a direct charge of an offer made to bribe 
an honourable senator, & that he was unwilling to proceed 
untill an investigation was entered into; & moved that the 
Sergant of Arms be directed to bring forthwith to the bar of 
the Senate Samuel D. Patterson & O. Barrett the editors of 
said paper — this resolution was adopted with very little 
debate, and in about half an hour these two gentlemen were 
at the Bar. Patterson had not written the article or Knew 
any thing about It, but the other avowed having written 
It & stated that Jacob Krebs, the Senator from Schuylkill 
County was his informant. That he heard from another 
person that such an offer had been made to Krebs about 
ten days ago. That he called on him, asked him if the report 
was true & was informed by him that it was, but that he would 
not tell the name of the individual who made the offer of the 
bribe. The evidence of Barrett was not concluded untill 
dinner time when the Senate adjourned untill half past 3 
o'clock. Mr Krebs was then called upon & he read from his 
place a statement of the offer. I did hope to have been able 
to have got a copy of this, but the committee are not willing 
to let it go out. The substance of It is that James L. Dunn of 
Reading came to him in the Senate Chamber on the 28*^ of 
last month and stated that if this Bank Bill should pass that 
his (Dunns) coal lands in Schuylkill County would very 
much advance in price, and wished Krebs to vote for the Bill. 
That if he would, he (Dunn) would give Krebs one half of the 
amount of the rise which he estimated at 4,000 dollars but 
that should the lands raise in value ten thousand dollars 



From Samuel R, Wood 267 

which they might, that he would in that case give him five 
thousand dollars. Krebs gave him no answer on that evening. 
Dunn called next morning and pressed it on him but he de- 
clined and afterwards avoided Dunn. 

That on the 30^*^ of January or first of March Henry W. 
Conrad a member of the House of Representatives from 
Schuylkill County told Krebs that he would insure him 
twenty thousand dollars if he would vote for the Bank Bill, 
and that if he agreed to it Bird Patterson would make the ar- 
rangement and that he should have the money in two weeks 
after the Bill passed — after the Senator had read his state- 
ment a motion was made to appoint a committee with power 
to send for persons & papers — which was agreed to & Baker, 
Toland, Leet, Strohm & Langston named as the Committee 
when the Senate adjourned. ''I 

How Dunn will get out of it is doubtful but all believe that 
Conrad was only in jest and that the old man was weak 
enough to take it for earnest — for there was two or three per- 
sons present when Conrad made the offer. Conrad has been 
one of the most violent and determined opposers of the Bill 
in the House. The violent opposers here have endeavoured to 
produce an excitement out of this matter & are woefully dis- 
appointed. They have evidently weakened themselves by it 
and look discouraged & ashamed. The friends of it bore them 
much and are in high spirits as to the result. They will take 
up the Bill to-morrow and I hope nothing will interrupt its 
passage.-^ 

1 The "Krebs affair," mentioned in the above letter became the main issue in 
the latter part of the passage of the Bank Bill. Committees were appointed in 
both the Senate and the House. The Senate Report disclosed the fact that Patter- 
son had not approached Krebs directly, but indirectly through Conrad; that the 
former had authorized Conrad to request Krebs to offer an amendment to the bill 



2 68 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



J. R. Ingersoll to Biddle 

House of representatives 

Washington March 17''' 1836 
My Dear Sir 

M"" Evans of Maine has exhibited to me a letter from 
certain Gentlemen to the East who are anxious to know the 
views of your Bank with regard to the establishment of 
branches or agencies, in other states. They have In view a 
branch or agency In Bangor: and desire to know whether they 

to get an appropriation to the Danville & Pottsville Railroad ; but Patterson denied 
that Krebs had been told "he might retire to private life independent if he voted 
for the measure." Therefore the committee reported that they were perfectly 
convinced that neither the Bank of the United States nor any agent of it were 
either implicated in the charge of bribery or had improperly interfered to promote 
its passage. The House Report was along the same lines and reached the same 
conclusion. Cf. American Sentinel, February 15, 1836; National Gazette, February 
18, 1836; Pennsylvamian, February 18, 1836; New York Journal of Commerce, Feb- 
ruary 16, 1836; Niles, April 9, 1836. 

Throughout the whole episode the correspondence of the agents of the bank to 
Biddle had taken about the same stand as that of the House Committee. Mcllvaine, 
writing on February 5, stigmatized the affair of old Krebs as a "humbug"; Todd 
described the case as "all smoke "; while Wallace wrote he was unable to determine 
whether Krebs was "so utterly stupid as not to understand the meaning & nature 
of a bribe or so wicked as to pervert perfectly innocent conversations to political 
profit." 

The bill re-chartering the old Bank was signed February 18. From all sides 
Nicholas Biddle received the congratulations and plaudits of his friends. The stock 
of the Bank rose from 125 to 129 in less than a week, and property in Erie, Penn- 
sylvania, doubled in value. (Cf. Russell to Buchler, February 28, 1836, in Wolf 
MSS. in Pennsylvania Historical Society Library.) In the United States Senate 
Ewing of Ohio triumphantly proclaimed the re-charter, while Calhoun renewed 
his attacks on the Administration. But the opponents of the old United States 
Bank did not falter in their opposition. The Ohio Legislature passed a bill pro- 
hibiting the establishment of agencies or branches in that state, much to the sur- 
prise and alarm of Biddle and his friends (cf. Pennsylvania, March 25, 1836). 
Rumors were likewise circulated regarding the supposed antagonism of Virginia 
and New York {ibid., February 24, 1836). Even President Jackson contemplated 
action against the bill when drafting the Specie Circular. This is disclosed in the 
Jackson MSS. in a memorandum containing an addition to the Treasury Circular. 
This is endorsed by Jackson "to be considered as to the present or future time." 



From Stephen F. Austin 269 

could arrange the appointment of individuals by whom it 
would be conducted subject of course to the parental direc- 
tion of the Bank. They wish to commence with a capital of 
$500,000 with the right to increase it from time to time as the 
business may warrant. . . . 

While I have been writing at my desk a neighbour of mine 
has asked me whether it was the design of the Bank to estab- 
lish an agency at Erie. He resides at Buffalo and thinks that 
the business which has heretofore been conducted at that 
place may be without difficulty transferred to Erie. 

Stephen F. Austin ^ to Biddle 

Philadelphia April 9. 1836. 
Sir, 

'^ As the enclosed memorandum embraces the outlines 
of the Loan for Texas on which I conversed with you this 
morning, I take the liberty of handing it to you. 

I should esteem it as a favor, if I could be informed within 
a short time, whether you think any thing could be effected 
in this matter. 

I consider the cause of Texas is the cause of freemen, and of 
mankind, but more emphatically of the people of the United 
States than any other. I flatter myself that you view it in the 
same light, and that the security we offer is good, and there- 
fore have no doubt you will give to it the attention which its 
importance merits. 

The leading men of all parties in Washington are favor- 
ably disposed towards Texas. A reference to them will, I 
think, satisfy all persons as to this fact. 

^ Son of Moses Austin, pioneer of Texas. Sent as commissioner of state to 
secure recognition of the United States. 



270 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

{enclosed memorandurn) 

It is proposed to negociate a Loan for the Government of 
Texas, on the following basis. 

The Commissioners of Texas shall assign to the Bank of the 
United States at Philadelphia, the Bonds of the Government 
of Texas, which they hold, for the sum of 500,000 payable 
in not less than 5 years, and redeemable thereafter at the pleas- 
ure of the State at the rate of 20% per annum, and if not so 
redeemed at the end of ten years, to be wholly redeemable at 
6 months notice thereafter, and bearing an interest of 8% 
per annum to be held in Trust by said Bank, for the benefit 
of the holders of a scrip to be issued by the Commissioners, 
based on said Bonds. 

Books of Subscription shall be opened in the cities of Bos- 
ton, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, for a scrip to be 
issued by the Commissioners in shares of ^100, which said 
scrip shall entitle the holder to an interest in said Bonds 
equal to the amount of Scrip thus held by him, and said Scrip 
shall be payable as follows; 

Of all purchases of land at the land offices in Texas, 20% 
of the sums due, may be paid and shall be receivable in said 
scrip. 

Of all customs due at the Custom Houses of Texas 20% 
of the sums due, may be paid, and shall be receivable in said 
Scrip. 

The holder shall be entitled to an interest of 8% per 
annum, payable at the Bank of the United States in Phila- 
delphia, on all portions of said Scrip unpaid, and the Gov- 
ernment of Texas shall have the privilege of paying the whole 
amount of said scrip, and redeeming their said Bonds, by 



"To Edward R. Biddle 271 

paying 20% of the principal annually, after the expiration 
uf 5 years, or the whole payable at 6 months notice after the 
expiration of 10 years. 

The payments of the Subscribers to said Scrip shall be made, 
25% at the time of subscription, and the remainder in 3 equal 
payments at 60, 90 & 120 days there after, to be secured at 
the time of subscription, by the notes of the subscribers, en- 
dorsed to the satisfaction of the Directors of the Bank of the 
United States, or persons appointed by them, & payable at 
such place as said Directors shall designate, provided the 
same be In the cities when said stock is subscribed. 

The Bank of the United States shall discount the notes 
thus paid in, and pay over the whole amount of the proceeds 
thereof, and the amount of the first instaknent thus paid 
in, to the Commissioners of Texas, and hold said Bonds as 
an additional guarantee for the payment of said notes. 

BmDLE (?) TO Edward R. Biddle ^ 

Phil^ March 20, 1837 
My dear Sir, 

... I have made up my mind to two things — which 
I give to you as elements in your calculations — \^^ That it 
is not our interest to prop people who must fall — and there- 
fore I shall not be inclined to advance a dollar further for 
any body unless under very peculiar circumstances, and 2. 
That the Treasury Circular will not be immediately repealed. 
Such at least is the present intension of the Chief who is al- 
ready discovered to be weak & vacillating. How this will affect 
your money market you can best judge . . . 

1 Engaged in the brokerage business in New York City; the second or third 
cousin of Nicholas Biddle. 



272 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

Columbia South Carolina 
private April 29. 1837 

Dear Sir 

I wrote a letter to you some time ago on behalf of our 
Iron company: subsequent events have furnished a sufficient 
reply. 

I enter upon my 79*^ Year, next October. By the time M' 
Van Beuren's first period has expired, I shall be superannu- 
ated. I can have therefore no selfish motive in my present 
proposal. The tide is turning strongly agst the measures of 
the last and present Administration. The poor now groan 
under the financial follies of Gen. Jackson as well as the 
rich. To be sure, over trading and gambling speculation will 
account for three fourths of the present distress, but no one 
can be blind to the effects produced by the desperate igno- 
rance of the last President. 

At this moment your judicious conduct has placed you 
prominent as a wise and temperate man, and a public bene- 
factor. You can go on pursuing cautiously the same course of 
conduct, and earning on all hands golden opinions. 

Why not look to the Presidency? 

Can your name be brought forward at a time more ad- 
vantageous than the present.'* You are rising, your oppo- 
nents are falling: strike the ball on the rebound, and I think 
this is the moment. 

Is there any chance of success for such imbecilles as Benton, 
Harrison, or even White."* Men without preliminary study, 
without knowledge patiently and laboriously acquired, with- 
out the business tact of experience, and floating on the bubbles 



From yoel R. Poinsett 273 

of popular clamour. Think of this : and if needful command 
my services, such as they may be. I am, and so may you be, 
in the odour of political sanctity in this State: and this State is 
the South; for we have earned the character of honesty & 
energy. We have here two men of plausible & fair pretensions: 
of those pretensions I say nothing at present; the subject may 
be discussed, if needful, by and by. 

The present suggestion is my own: received from and com- 
municated to no one but yourself: & so it shall remain till you 
decide. . . . 

Joel R. Poinsett ^ to Biddle 

Washington 

6*^. May 1837 
My dear Sir 

I read with great interest M'' Coxe's letter, which I 
now return. It confirms the melancholy state of things you 
explained to me as existing in the West, and for which I 
see no present remedy. The suspension of the distribution ^ 
presents the most substantial relief: but although we may 
have some legal excuse to suspend that of October, the in- 
stalment due the states in July will I understand be paid. 

Can you not in your financial knowledge and experience 
devise some plan by which a wholesome control may be ex- 
ercised over bank issues and exchanges be brought back to 
which they were before the destruction of the Bank — Some 
measure apart from a national bank even although it might 
be connected with the operations of a great state institu- 

^ Secretary of War under Van Buren. 

2 The best work on this topic is Bourne, E. G., The History of the Surplus 
Revenue of 1837 (New York, 1885). 



2 74 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

tion. I see obstacles to the charter of a national bank that 
are insuperable in the present state of things, and would 
gladly avail myself of your skill to support some measure 
which might save us the repetition of the evils we are now 
suffering. 

Biddle to Joel R. Poinsett 

Phil^ May 8. 1837 
My dear Sir — 

I have always thought that the best thing which M' 
Van Buren could do in reference to himself personally, as well 
as to his political party, would be to make peace with the 
Bank ■ — and the present state of things furnishes an admi- 
rable opportunity of accomplishing that object. Why indeed 
should he not? To all the members of the Cabinet except 
one,^ I personally have always stood in a friendly relation, 
and in regard to the President himself there is no sort of 
personal difference. The way therefore would be open for 
a general amnesty — which for the sake of the country I 
am willing to consent to — and I do believe that just now 
the effect would be electric & decisive. 

Biddle to Joel R. Poinsett 

Phil^ May 8. 1837 
Dear Sir — 

I received last evening your favor of the 6*^ inst. The 
course of the Gov^ being I presume settled as according to 
the newspapers, it now remains only to do what we can to 
diminish the sufferings of the country, and for this I shall 
certainly work as hard as if I had caused them. 
^ This evidently refers to Woodbury. 



"To yoel R. Poinsett 275 

You ask whether some plan could not be devised by which 
the issues of the banks & the exchanges could be regulated 
as formerly, by a connection with some large state Bank. I 
have no doubt of it. I have no doubt that at this moment the 
simplest & easiest form of relief would be to make the pres- 
ent Bank of the U.S. the depositors of the public revenue. 
It would be only necessary — 

i^^ To let the Treasury & the Bank agree that the Bank 
should take charge of the public revenue — collect and dis- 
tribute it — relieve the Treasury from all trouble about it. 

2^. To let the Treasury — without disturbing or formally 
repealing the specie circular ^ — direct the receivers to take 
the notes of the Bank of the U.S. 

3*^. The Bank would then appoint Its own agents — or 
affiliate with it other State Banks — being of course respon- 
sible for them all — & the whole system of the public revenue 
as it was in 1830 — which, now we may speak of it histori- 
cally, was an admirable one — would be all restored. 

The Western State Banks have mostly officers of the late 
Bank — the whole country asks nothing better than its notes 
which are now every where at a premium, and both at home 
& abroad the Bank has a reputation which it can put at the 
service of the Government. 

I sincerely believe that in a week's time such an arrange- 
ment would restore confidence & credit. 

The very prospect of it would stop many of the evils which 
are Impending. 

And why should it not be.? If the thing promises well, why 
should we be deterred from attempting it? Why should M"" 

1 For a discussion of the Specie Circular, consult MacDonald, Jacksonian 
Democracy, pp. 286-291. 



276 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

Van Buren & M' Forsyth & M' DIckerson & M'' Woodbury 
& yourself not agree to any project which promises relief, 
even tho' the name of the Bank be connected with it. I am 
sure you are all above the indulgence of any feeling on that 
score — and for myself, I am perfectly willing to forget all 
the quarrels with the last administration, which neither party 
would desire to have perpetuated. 

Politically the effect would undoubtedly be good. Pennsyl- 
vania would be pleased, and the whole country would regard 
It as a proof of returning peace. 

It would require a little time to mount again the machinery, 
but it could be done without much delay, & in the mean time 
the very knowledge that it was intended, would be infinitely 
soothing in the present initated condition of things. 

Now, my dear sir, there is a project for you. If you can bring 
it to bear, you will have done great good to the country — a 
work in which you will always find a ready cooperation. 

BmDLE TO General Robert Patterson ^ 

Phil^ May 8. 1837 
Dear Sir — 

In a letter which I have written by this mail to M"" 
Poinsett, I have suggested a measure which I think would be 
a brilliant stroke of policy, & give immediate confidence to 
the country. It is simply this, that the Gov^ should make the 
Bank of the U.S. the depository of the public funds, and with- 
out repealing the specie circular, authorize the reclept of the 
paper of the Bank for dues to the Government. You will 
see at a glance the advantages of such a movement. . . . 

* In 1836 Patterson was the President of the electoral college that cast the 
vote of Pennsylvania for Martin Van Buren. One of the largest mill-owners in the 
United States. 



To Thomas Cooper 277 

What prevents this? Some old feehng of party? Certainly 
not. We have fought out the battle with the last adminis- 
tration — with what success it is not for me to say — but at 
least we fought it fairly, and we do not wish to fight it over 
with this administration. 

I submit all these matters to you, and if, as I trust, you will 
see them in the same light, I would ask your immediate con- 
currence in carrying it into effect. I care not how it begins, or 
who proposes it, but if it be necessary for me to commence, 
I am agreed. I am too proud to think my step humiliating 
which may benefit this poor bleeding country of ours. 

General Robert Patterson to Biddle 

Confidential Washington 8 May 1837 

My dear Sir 

I called this morning on Mr Van Buren and had nearly 
an Hours conversation with him — going over the whole 
ground — he is evidently in an unpleasant position ^ — con- 
scious of the impending danger — and yet anxious to avoid 
doing anything which might appear to be a departure from 
the policy of his predecessor . . . 

Biddle to Thomas Cooper 

PhiK May 8. 1837 
My dear Sir, 

I have had the pleasure of receiving your favor of the 
29^^ ult°, and rejoice to see in it the same vigor of mind & of 
style which I have admired for five & twenty years. I hope 
it may carry you through many Presidential Olympiads. 

1 The Van Buren MSS. in the Library of Congress show clearly that Van Buren 
thought he ought to follow in the footsteps of President Jackson. 



278 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

I thank you for your approbation of my public conduct, 
which, whatever may be the result, has been dictated by a 
very honest desire to protect the great Interests of the country. 

In relation to the friendly suggestion which forms the pur- 
pose of your letter, I have received from various quarters 
intimations of a disposition to connect my name with the 
next election of President, These I have never considered 
seriously, nor indeed noticed at all: but to you I will speak 
for the first time & without reserve. 

I believe that the prosperity & the character of the country 
require that those who now govern it should be removed and 
that all true men should unite to expel them — each taking 
the position, either of chief or subaltern, which the general 
voice assigns to him. I am quite sure that I have not the 
least affectation In saying, that to myself personally, the office 
has not the slightest attraction. Its dignity has been degraded 
by the elevation to it of unworthy men — and as to mere 
power, I have been for years In the daily exercise of more 
personal authority than any President habitually enjoys. But 
I stand ready for the country's service. If therefore you think 
that my name can be productive of good, I am content to 
place it — as I now do, at your disposal — under a conviction 
of the friendly & discreet manner In which alone It will be 
employed. 

Thomas Cooper to BmoLE 

Private Columbia May 14. 1837 

Dear Sir 

My friend the Governor of this State, a man of no 
brilliant talents, of no acquirement, but a great worldly 
tact and resource, and extremely popular, will not be here for 



From Thomas Cooper 279 

some days. He Is at Charleston where our State Bank have 
acceded to our request to the loan I wrote to you about. I 
shall sound him when he returns, cautiously but I think suc- 
cessfully: till then I make no move. Hitherto, he and I have 
acted with no variance of opinion. 

I could write to Noah : but Altho' I have no doubt about 
his inclinations, I know not enough how his interest points. 
The Iron is quite hot enough in that furnace, to strike; but 
you have it under your own controul. In that field of battle 
you must trace the line of March. Movements of great dan- 
ger & irritation seem to me probable in that quarter, that 
may furnish a favourable occasion for your prudent inter- 
ference. 

We have two aspirants here: both able, & both honest men: 
both regarded throughout the State, rather as looking stead- 
ily at the central Government, than as guided by a purely 
South Carolinian spirit. They are therefore not popular. 
Calhoun is rather borne with, than supported. He has talent, 
but without tact or Judgement. Remember, I am giving you, 
what leading and thinking men say. 

Preston has more talent, more tact, more judgement, & is 
as honest as Calhoun. They are on the field of political com- 
petition. Preston is more approved. But he is too much of a 
diplomat: too much non committal; too Van Beurenish, but 
much superior to V. Beuren. People distrust him from his 
manner, more than they ought. But he is not popular. He 
has not the leading mark of a great man, he cannot attach 
to himself a corps of personal thorough-going friends. Gen' 
Hamilton of our State could do that. So does our present 
Governor Butler. Preston moreover is a Virginian. He would 
make a good minister at a foreign Court. 



2 8o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Both these Gentlemen are Hke me, Nullifiers. They could 
not be sustained out of the State, even If they could command 
South Carolina. It is an unfashionable Garb. It sticks like the 
shirt of Nesus. I am content however to wear it as my wind- 
ing sheet. 

You will have no opponents of equal talent, energy, & hon- 
esty with these two Gentlemen, whom I regard as hors de 
combat. 

Strange times are approaching. Arrangements ought to be 
made to introduce the Subject; when, where, and how.^' For 
by the time Congress meets, the pressure will be at its acme, 
and the lower classes will feel it severely. 

I trouble you with these preliminary hints, for the plan of 
the Campain must be thought about. 

Webster will be set up as your Opponent: the South will 
not go for him; & they will go for you in preference. Webster 
has a character for talent, but he is not qualified for a leader. 
He has no personal friends. He is a good partizan parliamen- 
tary debater, but he cannot trace out the plan of a political 
Campain, nor is he fit to be at the head of it. I see no fearful 
competitor at present, or in prospect. . . . Adieu. 

Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

Private May 24. 1837 Columbia 

Dear Sir 

... All to whom I have guardedly spoken, agree with 
me in opinion, decidedly. My friend the Governor has set- 
tled with to set up a new paper here; for we cannot make use 
of the Telescope, or the other paper of our town; and the 
strange infatuation of M"" Calhoun as to the presidency must 
be counteracted. I believe M'Duffie would go with us stren- 



From "Thomas Cooper 281 

uously, if it were not for personal regard to M*" Calhoun, You 
have gained over Calcock of Charleston. 

Among our people in Congress, White of Tennessee has 
friends; but White & Clay have been started on the course, 
and are broken down. Neither can succeed if entered again. 

M"" Van Beuren, whom I like personally (for he is a Gentle- 
man) will I think carry the next Congress with him. I have 
taken full and effectual care both to him & M"" Poinsett, to 
render mistake impossible as to my opinions. I have stated 
expressly and decidedly that I am a friend to State inter- 
position agst an unconstitutional Law, by Nullification. That 
I disapprove of Gen'. Jackson's exprints [ .f"] on the finances of 
the Country, and that I consider the treasury circular as tend- 
ing in its results to degrade the national credit and character. 
I have found this distinct explanation on my part, necessary. 

// the Congress called in September should resolve on a na- 
tional Bank, (which I doubt, for a majority as yet are Van 
Beurenists) it will be, either the readoption of yours, or a new 
establishment at New York, over which you will probably be 
invited to preside. But the measure of misfortune is not yet 
full enough, to drive the friends of General Jackson from their 
insane attempts. I think M"" Van Beuren has committed him- 
self to the old man too far; and the call of Congress TYiay he in- 
tended to introduce a little welcome force before he yields. . . . 

Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

S. Car'. Columbia July i: 1837 
Dear Sir 

. . . The time has not yet arrived for the direct nomi- 
nation of any man as future president. But all secondary 
means and appliances may be usefully brought forward, and 



2 8 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

should be so: cast thy bread on the waters, It will be found 
again after many days. 

Webster Is a dexterous debater, but he has no judgement, 
no energy, or boldness of character. The man has no per- 
sonal courage & cannot succeed: he Is made to be governed. 
Here, we should decidedly prefer Van Beuren to Webster. 
But the battle Is coming on (may be, literally) between 
the ultra radlcallsts and the Constitutionalists : If Mr Van 
Beuren has desperate courage enough, we shall have a mo- 
narchical government of no liberal character. If not, I see no 
serious obstacle to the success of my proposal. . . . Adieu. 
I wish you good success 

Biddle to John Rathbone Jr 

{private) Phll^. July 14. 1837 

My dear Sir 

You ask my views about the mode In which the Bank 
of the U.S. could assist In restoring the currency. I will tell 
you in a few words. 

The present design of those who govern the Government 
at Washington Is, I understand, to draw all the funds out of 
the Banks — then cut all connection with them — and es- 
tablish subtreasuries where each receiver Is to sit upon his 
small heap of gold & silver. This Is the newest, & therefore 
the favorite, foolery. Congress, I think will not agree to this, 
or to any other experiment and will incline to either a real 
downright Bank of the U.S. chartered by the Genl Gov' or to 
the present Pennsylv^. Bank. . . . 

If the Treasury & the Bank could come to an understand- 
ing as to the terms on which the Bank would do this business 
— everything would soon come right. 



From B, W^, Leigh 283 

But I can do nothing at present which would not work 
more harm than good. This very proposition I made before 
the suspension. Had it been adopted the Suspension would 
have been I believe, averted. I cannot now renew it. My 
purpose now is to be perfectly quiet — to be ready — but 
not impatient & wait the action of Congress. If that body 
adopts any measure which promises relief I shall cordially 
concur in it — If not, having done my duty I remain where 
I was. My great object is to heal the wounds inflicted upon 
the country. I will spare no effort for that purpose. No mis- 
guided feeling of pride, no remembrance of past injustice 
to myself shall prevent me from a sincere & cordial coop- 
eration with any public men who will honestly labor in the 
public service. These are the simple views — and the frank 
opinion of 

B. W. Leigh to Biddle 

Richmond, Aug. 21. 1837. 
My dear sir 

I am informed, that the hon^ William Smith, formerly 
of South Carolina, now of Alabama, has recently, in a public 
speech to the people of Huntsville, and on other occasions, 
stated that the late chief justice Marshall ^ owned seven- 
teen shares of stock of the Bank of the U.States, at the time 
he decided, in the case of M*^Cullock against the State of 
Maryland, that the charter of the Baak was constitutional. 
The argument of that cause was opened on the 22nd Febru- 
ary 18 19, and the chief justice delivered the opinion of the 
court on the 7^^ March; 4 Wheat. 316, 322, 400. 

1 For a discussion of the Marshall affair, cf. Niles, September 23, 1837, pp. 50-51; 
ibid., December 2, 1837, P- 218; ibid.., June 2, 1838, pp. 210-211. 



284 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

The most innocent purpose for which such a statement 
could have been made, was to detract from the weight of the 
chief justice's authority on the point of constitutional law; 
which Mr Smith, it seems, was willing to accomplish, by im- 
puting to him a personal interest in the controversy. I say 
nothing about the motive or the candor of such an imputa- 
tion, or of the evidence it affords of Mr Smith's scale of moral 
sentiment and honor. 

I find upon examination of the Dividend Books of the office 
of the Bank at this place, that Mr Marshall received the 
dividend of July 1817 on 12 shares; and the dividends on 
17 shares, of January 1818, July 181 8, and January 18 19; and 
that his receipt for this last dividend is dated Jan^ 23, 1819, 
just before he left home to attend the supreme court, the 
term of which then commenced on the V^ February. From 
thenceforth he never received any dividend (because, I infer, 
he never owned any stock) in his own right — tho' there was 
some stock standing in his name and mine as joint exors of 
G. K. Taylor of Petersburg, which / bought and always drew 
the dividends of — and, at a later period, some stock standing 
in his name as trustee for the widow and children of his 
brother William Marshall. It follows, that he must have 
sold his own 17 shares of stock, after the dividend of January 
1 8 19 was declared; but we cannot ascertain here the precise 
date when he parted with it. I have not the least doubt, that 
he sold this stock before he left home in January or Feb- 
ruary 1819. 

Now I must beg the favor of you to ascertain the date of 
the transfer of that stock, on the the transfer book* at Phila- 
delphia, the person to whom he transferred it, and (as he 
must have transferred by attorney) the date of the letter of 



To B. W.Leigh 285 

attorney; and to give me the precise dates, and a copy of the 
letter of attorney and of the authentication subjoined to it. 
Have the goodness also, to have the facts stated in the form 
of a certificate signed by the proper officer of the Bank. 

You may perhaps think I am taking over unnecessary 
trouble about this affair — but I do so at the request of a 
friend at Huntsville — and besides, I am persuaded, that if 
a grave charge of forgery, or perjury, or sheep stealing, were 
made against the most honest and honorable man in the 
countr}% it would do him some harm; so general is the be- 
lief of the universal corruption of the nation. I am, sir, with 
hearty respect & esteem 
*i8i9i 

Feb. 8'h 12 shl to Thos Marshall 
Mar (.?) 26^^ 5 " " Thos P. Cope & for 

BiDDLE TO B. W. Leigh 

Phil^ Augt. 24. 1837. 
My Dear Sir, 

I had last evening the pleasure of receiving your let- 
ter of the 21^* inst. and immediately hasten to perform the 
sacred duty of defending the character of an honest man from 
the reptiles who avenge themselves for his superiority while 
living, by crawling over his dead body. I think we shall be 
perfectly successful in presenting the following results. 

The argument in the case of M'^Cullock & the State of 
Maryland began, according to your statement on the 22^ of 
Feb^ 1 8 19, & the decision of the court was pronounced on the 
17*^ of March 1819. 

Now of the 17 shares owned by the Judge Marshall on the 

* This is in pencil in manuscript. 



2 86 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

i^* of Jan^. 1819, 12 were transferred on the 8^^ of Feb^. 
1 8 19, under a power given by Judge Marshall on the 5^^ of 
Feby. 1819. 

For the remaining 5 he gave a power to transfer them on 
the 2i" 0/ ]ar^ . 1819, though the transfer was not actually 
made on the Books until the 26^*' of March 18 19. 

So that in point of fact he was ostensibly the owner of five 
shares at the time of the decision. 

Finding this I sent for M"" Cope, one of the Director's of 
the Bank of the U.S. and nephew of the M"" Thomas V. Cope 
named in the power of Atty. & requested him to examine 
the books of the House & endeavored to find the evidences of 
what I have no doubt was the fact, that Judge Marshall sold 
the Stock at the time of giving the power of Attorney on the 
21^^^ of January, and that the purchaser neglected to send it 
on till March to be transferred. 

I have kept my letter open in order to give the result of M"" 
Cope's enquiries, but as the period is so remote he has not 
been able to complete his examination, & promises to let me 
know further tomorrow. He thinks however that he has as- 
certained that this stock was sent to the House by some per- 
son in Virg^ with other parcels of stock to be transferred, & 
that the probility is that the correspondent in Virg^ had pur- 
chased these five shares & paid for them. 

I will postpone till tomorrow therefore the further exam- 
ination, & in the meantime send inclosed a certificate from 
the Transfer Office & certified copies of the powers of Attor- 
ney on file. It may be well to add, that in the power of Att^ 
of the 21^* of Jany. 18 19, there is a blank for the name of the 
Att^. and that the blank is filled up with the name of Thomas 
P Cope in the handwriting of Th°^ P Cope himself, whence I 



From B, TV. Leigh 287 

infer that the power was given in blank by Judge Marshall 
with the certificate & sent to M"" Th°^ P Cope by his cor- 
respondent in Virg^ . . . 

BiDDLE TO B. W. Leigh 

Phll^ Aug^ 25. 1837. 
My Dear Sir, 

Referring to my letter of yesterday's date, I now in- 
close a memorandum furnished by M*" Caleb Cope by which 
it will appear that the Stock in the name of Judge Marshall 
was received from M"" John V. Wilcox of Petersburg V^. 
That gentleman is still living, & could probably explain the 
terms on which he received it from the Judge. I have now fur- 
nished all the materials within my reach, but I shall follow 
the subject with great interest, and will be much gratified 
at hearing from you the result of your enquiries, the fame of 
that upright man being the common property of us all. 

B. W. Leigh to Biddle 

Richmond, Aug. 28. 1837 
My Dear Sir 

I write to acknowledge your letter of the 24^'' and 
25 th, and to thank you for them. 

The letter of attorney for the transfer of M' Marshall's five 
shares of stock in which M' Cope was the attorney, was 
luckily attested by the James H. Lynch of this town ; and I im- 
mediately resorted to him for information as to the date at 
which M"" M. parted with his property in that stock. M' L. 
has furnished me conclusive proof, that that stock was 
sold to him at par, and paid for, on the 21st January 18 19, 
the date of the letter of attorney; and he says, moreover, 



2 88 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

that he advised Mr. Marshall, at the time, not to sell his 
stock, but he assigned as his reason for selling It, that he did 
not choose to remain a stock holder, as questions might be 
brought before the supreme court In which the Bank might 
be concerned. M"". L. does not remember certainly to whom 
he sold these shares of stock; but the scrip and the letter of 
attorney probably passed thro' several hands before they 
came to those of Mr Wilcox, who sent them to Mr Cope. 
But this Is wholly Immaterial, and I shall not take the trouble 
to write to Mr W. about It. 

You shall be Informed what I do In this affair. Do not 
doubt that I will give the Hon William Smith such a rap over 
the knuckles as he deserves. But that is not all I have to do — 
the gentleman who Informed me of this mean and base slan- 
der on Mr Marshall's memory, said, that Mr Smith "made 
the statement upon the authority of a U. States Senator now 
representing Virginia." I cannot believe that he had any 
such authority; and I suspect he has slandered our Senators 
as well as Mr Marshall. But if It shall turn out that he 
vouched any such authority, and that either of our present 
Senators made any such communication to him, that Senator 
shall hear of it, and that in such a manner that he shall not 
forget it for the remainder of his days. 

B. W. Leigh to Biddle 

Richmond, Sept. 4. 1837. 
Dear Sir — ■ 

You must pardon me for giving you a little more trouble. 

I find from the dividend book of the office of the bank of 

U.States at Richmond, that Gen. J. B. Harvie of this town, 

the son-in-law of the late chief justice Marshall, received the 



To B. W. Leigh 289 

dividends on ten shares of stock, of July 181 7, January and 
July 1818, and January 1819, and thenceforth afterwards he 
never received any dividend on any of the stock. From a con- 
versation I have had with Gen, H. this morning, I appre- 
hend that these shares were originally purchased by Mrs 
Marshall the wife of the chief justice, but the transfer of it 
was made to Gen. H. and the stock stood in his name, tho' 
in fact as trustee for her — she had a sort of separate prop- 
erty,* which she managed for herself and disposed of the 
profits of it, or the principal, among her children, at her own 
pleasure. Gen. H. says this stock was given to him; Mr Mar- 
shall telling him at the time, that he wished to divest him- 
self of all manner of interest in the bank, because there was 
suits pending (or might be such suits) in the supreme court 
in which the bank was concerned. But Gen. H. does not re- 
member the precise date of the gift to him. 

I beg you to get the transfer clerk to give me the precise 
date when, and the person to whom, Gen. H. transferred 
these ten shares of stock, and to send me a copy of his power 
of attorney for the transfer of it — and oblige 

You will soon see in print my correspondence with my 
friend in Huntsville on the subject of Mr Smith's speech 
* tho' not under any settlement 

BiDDLE TO B. W. Leigh 

Phil^ Sept^ 7. 1837 
My Dear Sir, 

I had last night the pleasure of receiving your favor 

of the 4'^'* inst. & now inclose 

I. A certificate from the Transfer Dep*. of the Bank of the 

U.S. as to transfers from & to M'. J. B. Harvie, & 



290 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

2. Copies of the powers of Attorney by with which these 
transfers were effected. 

I shall look with great interest for the correspondence 
which you promise — & remain meanwhile, 

Silas M. Stilwell ^ to Biddle 

New York Sept 9*^ 1837 
D'. Sir 

... I am very much pleased with the message,^ and the 
evident breaking up, to a sufficient extent, of party usages. 

I think I see in the " conservitive 22" of the hour, a body 
of men who must be united, ultimately, to the Whigs. How- 
ever we may look with more confidence to the result of their 
deliberations. I think there is no hope of the "Sub treas- 
ury" plan — the "conservatives"^ will kill that. The "Pet 
Banks" are denounced by "the administration." A National 
Bank M"" Van Beuren is pledged to Veto. So what is there 
left to hang hope upon — except a Contract to releive the 
"government" — assist the people? — "To this complex- 
tion we must come at last." . . . 

Charles August Davis to Biddle 

New York 9 Sep*. 1837 
My D^ Sir 

. . . M^ Van B has made a mistake in fixing on 

^ Lawyer and author of the general bankrupt law of New York; and in 1863 
of the national banking act and system of organizing credits. Cf . National Ency- 
clopedia oj American Biography, vol. xi, p. 251. 

2 Richardson, op. ciL, vol. iii, pp. 324-346. 

' Party opposed to Sub-Treasury and led by Nathaniel P. Tallmadge of 
New York. For a good discussion of the conservative party in New York consult 
Hammond, J. D., The History of Political Parties in New York (Buffalo, 1850); or 
Alexander, D. S., A Political History of New York (New York, 1909). 



"To Charles King 2 9 1 

the loco-foco portion of the party — and every day hundreds 
of his old friends drop off and openly denounce his doc- 
trines — . . . 

B. W. Leigh to Biddle 

Richmond, Sep*. 13. 1837. 
Dear Sir — 

I send you by the same mail with this, a copy of the 
Richmond Whig of this morning, containing my correspond- 
ence with D"". Watkins of Alabama on the subject of Mr 
Smiths calumny on Chief justice Marshall. Pray, see that it 
is republished In the Philadelphia papers; and if you can, that 
it shall be also republished In the New York American. I hope 
you will think that I have struck the slanderer hard enough 
and not too hard. 

Biddle to B. W. Leigh 

Phil^ Septr. 15, 1837 
Dear Sir, 

I have this evening received your favor of the 13*^ 
inst. with the accompanying correspondence which I have 
read with sincere pleasure. I have already written to M*" King 
requesting its publication In the American, & shall see that 
it is widely circulated here. 

Biddle to Charles King 

Phila Septr. 15, 1837. 
Dear Sir, 

In a letter received this evening from Mr. Leigh of 
Richmond, he expressed a wish that his correspondence on 
the subject of Chief Justice Marshall which you will find in 



292 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

the Richmond Whig should be republished in the Anierican. 
You will I am sure gladly contribute to vindicate the reputa- 
tion of such a man from assailants who avenge themselves for 
his superiority while living by calumniating his memory. In 
doing this you will gratify M' Leigh & oblige 

E. R. Biddle to BmDLE 

Septem' 19*' 1837 — 
My Dear Sir 

I must have 5,000$ to' accomplish some great good in 
my native state. I will give I hope a good account of it — at 
a proper time. 
Do send it by return of mail. 

Biddle to E. R. Biddle 

Phil^ Sep' 20. 1837 
My dear Sir, 

Your note of yesterday is received & I would endeavor 
to comply with it at once but for this reason — From the 
phrasologyof it I infer that it is not anything of personal in- 
terest to yourself — nor anything pecuniary — but merely 
political. Now the events that are passing satisfy me that it 
is not worth while to do anything in that line. I have re- 
nounced it altogether. Nothing would induce me to engage 
in it. Let me know if I am right & believe me 

Charles August Davis to Biddle 

New York 27 Sep^ 1837 
My D' Sir 

... I have just return'd from "up the Hudson" after 
a few days absence. I found all the folks up there sour & sad 



From 'Thomas Cooper 293 

the Banks contracting & all suffering — the doctrine of the 
Message dont suit them at all — & as the crops are good & 
prices declining I suspect the farmers by Nov. will begin to 
feel it too — & all the towns large & small desire they sh'd. 
Every thing Is working for good or I am sadly mistaken. 
I Scarcely met a man of M^Van B. late party who does not 
blame him & his "locd foco"^ doctrines — the horror the 
people have of the very name of loco foco is death to any 
mans hopes who hinges on them, they think In the Country — 
*'loco foco" means flour rioters &c &c they are not far out. 
The whole secrete of M"". Van B. policy is to keep on the 
side of democracy & when driven to extremities or compeld to 
Show his hand — or take ground — it is then he strikes so 
that none shall cut under him — feeling that democracy Is 
like a grass crop always springing up afresh & in good time 
going to seed & when It reaches this point it Is call'd aristoc- 
racy & new crops follow but in boring his hold this time in 
the great "Barrel politic" — he has evidently for the present 
bored too low & will get dregs only — but his system Is simply 
this — whilst others adopt measures that divide society per- 
pendicularly — he cuts horizontally — & always thus cuts that 
no one shall cut under him — hence you may see him adopt 
any measure that Is likely to win with great maxim & rule. . . . 

Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

Columbia 20 Oct^ 1837 
Dear Sir 

The whole delegation of S. Carolina, save Calhoun and 
his relative Pickens, voted against the Sub treasury bill. The 

* For a brief account of the rise and activities of the Loco Foco Party consult 
Byrdsall, P., History of the Loco Foco or Equal Rights Party (New York, 1842). 



2 94 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

opinions of influential men here are divided about your bank. 
Preston and Hamilton are quietly in your favour. Quietly: 
for the day has not yet arrived to speak out plainly & boldly. 
Three fourths of the business men in our State are with you, 
but I think the time has not come in which we can call them 
out. If I augur rightly from the signs of the Times, a motion 
to reinstate your bank will be made in about 2 years; hardly 
sooner. But the expedients proposed & to be proposed as sub- 
stitutes will all fail. I think even the lo million bill will fail 
to relieve the New York merchants ; and in that case, I dare 
not risk prognosticating the result. 

The other proposal I made, in an early letter to you, must 
go on gently. It will work its own way, & has probability on 
its side. ... 

Biddle to E. R. Biddle 

{-private and confidential) PhiK Nov^ 6. 1837 

My dear Sir 

As you asked my opinion, I deem it right to Say that 
I think that neither your Bank nor any other Bank Should 
take the loan — and that it would be very hazardous for an 
individual since he would have to prove to the purchaser in 
Europe that it had not been originally purchased by a Bank. 
I believe that the best thing to do for you therefore both 
officially & individually is to abstain from it altogether, & 
so apprize the parties at once. 

I had a long conversation to day with M"" Hunt the Minis- 
ter from Texas — and suggested to him various changes 
which I thought useful in the Texas loan and which I have 
no doubt will be made unless some premature action takes 
place in regard to it. This you had better prevent. 



From E. R. Biddle 295 

E. R. Biddle to Biddle 

New York Novem''. 'j^ 1837 — 
Dear Sir — 

Your favor of yesterdays date is before me — Yester- 
day I declined making any proposition to the Comers from 
Texas, but I told them that if they would leave their address 
with me I would try and arrange to procure them a bid from 
a combination of individuals for 200,000$ provided the option 
of taking the whole amount should be given to the takers for 
6 months, on their assuming an option of 300,000$ more in 
90 days. This I think can he accomplished hy me so as to pay 
me a handsome remuneration for my trouble. As however 
your letter induces me to stand aloof — I do so. Dont forget 
me however or my Institution, whenever you decide we are 
ready to unite with you. 

E. R. Biddle to Biddle 

New York Nov 11*'' 1837 
My Dear Sir 

The result of the elections ^ in this state is such as to 

1 The New York election was viewed with great interest during these months 
of distress, and it was evident that the outcome would be closely associated with 
the panic in the money market. The symptoms of a division in the Democratic 
Party in relation to banks and banking was early exhibited in New York. (Ham- 
mond, J. D., The History of Political Parties in New York, Buffalo, 1850, vol. 11, 
pp. 462, 463.) The spring elections in the city of New York resulted in the choice of 
a Whig ]\Iayor, and coming as they did in the midst of hard times "prepared the 
way for the avalanche in the fall." A little later the Sub-Treasury issue began to 
assume prominence in the politics of the state. Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, a Demo- 
cratic United States Senator, openly opposed Van Buren's policy and endorsed 
Seward for governor of the state. Van Buren's message in September created a stir 
in Democratic ranks and was received with much displeasure by the Tammany 
men. The Whig papers rejoiced in the discomfiture of their enemies while the 
Democratic papers predicted a gloomy outlook for the Albany Regime. {New York 
Times quoted in the National Intelligencer, October 3, 1837; New York Spectator, 



296 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

ensure a renewed confidence In our securities in the European 
market. 

This will warrant are thinking now of the Texian Loan. 
Rest assured a large sum is to be made by it and we are ready 
to father it, if you will unite with us. . . . 

E. R. BiDDLE TO BiDDLE 

Nov: 2\^^ 1837 New York 
My Dear Sir 

... I will take no steps as to the Loan, believing I 
can in no way better serve you, than keeping it at your com- 
mand. I might I think realize a commission on it of 2 or 4 
pr. ct. by some exertion on my part. ... 

, Thomas Cooper to BmDLE 

Columbia S.C. 16 Dec' 1837 
Dear Sir 

. . . Very many think as I do, that a sound general 

October 12, 1837.) The returns verified their forecasts. The Whigs carried the 
Assembly by loi to 27 and 10 of the 22 Senators, showing a gain of 144. on the 
preceding year. (Niles, November 25, 1837.) Great was the rejoicing in the Whig 
strongholds over the victory. (Niles, November 18, 1837; Adams, J. Q., Memoirs, 
vol. IX, pp. 431, 432.) 

The Democratic papers set to work explaining the cause of their defeat. "To our 
mind," said the Worcester Republican, "there is no mystery to explain in order 
to solve the reasons of the change in the state as well as in the city of New York. 
The city and state are a highly commercial people. They have felt severely the 
pressure in the money market for the last two months and upwards. And this is the 
strongest argument that can be urged to men in their wants. ... It has been urged 
against the administration that its course of policy has been the cause of the diffi- 
culties and pressure in the money market. This has been too successfully urged." 
{Worcester Republican, November 22, 1837.) "The late elections," reiterated the 
Globe, "have been carried under the influence of a panic excited by a false issue." 
{Globe, quoted in Wooster {Ohio) Republican Advocate, November 23, 1837.) To 
Jackson the political tornado was caused by the apostasy of the Conservatives, but 
to all it was evident the cry of "hard times " raised so efficiently by the Whigs, had 
worked like magic. (Moore, J. B., Works of James Buchanan, Philadelphia, 1908, 
vol. in, p. 338.) 



From M, New kirk 297 

currency will not take place among us unless by returning 
into the beaten road we have unwisely quitted. But the neces- 
sity must be felt, 'ere it is adopted. Of course your friends 
& the friends of your institution must permit the course of 
events to guide their course. Van Beuren cannot make head 
agst Clay, unless he goes in good earnest for the South, which 
I think he will do. Strange to say, I hear no objection to your 
talents or your integrity, among those whom I have cau- 
tiously sounded, but they all object to you as being in want of 
the necessary knowledge and experience as a party politician. 
To be sure, like the modest girl in Magdalen, who was ad- 
vised to go out and qualify herself for admittance, you might 
go for a session into that house of ill fame the H. of Rep. in 
Congress, with political morals sufficiently debauched to 
become a president; but I sh'^. not recommend this course of 
education as indispensible. My own opinion is, that the regu- 
lar course of events will ere long point out the course you 
might be able to adopt. . . . 

M. Newkirk ^ TO BmoLE 

Washington Jan^ 20*^ 1838 
My Dear Sir, 

... I have had a good deal of Conversations with dif- 
ferent individuals about the passage of the Sub-Treasury Bill. 
Mr Clay is very Confident they can defeat them in both 
houses — in the Senate by a Majority of three. Mr. Kendall is 
Very Confident they can carry it by a Small Majority ailtho 
he thinks it will be a Close Vote Hon. Frank Thomas thinks 
it Can not be Carried at this time. Our Own friends appear 
very much divided in their opinion about its passage. . . . 

* A director of the Bank, 1836-1840. 



298 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



D. A. Smith to Biddle 

Washington 28''' January 1838 
Dear Sir, 

. . . The sub Treasury BUI Is a subject of much con- 
versation here, and its fate in the Senate is very doubtful; 
and it is believed by some of our friends, that the failure 
of the Common wealth Bank of Boston will operate in favour 
of Its adoption. M'' Grundy ^ will receive instructions to 
vote against it and will obey; M*" Rives ^ is firmly opposed 
to the bill in its present shape, and M''. Talmadge will make 
a great effort to defeat it. Morris ^ of Ohio will obey in- 
structions if they should be received in time, but Allen ^ it is 
said will not. M'' CambrelHng is confident of the passage of 
the Bill in the Senate, but thinks it will meet with more diffi- 
culty in the House; He says the present Congress will not 
consent to discuss any project for a National Bank of Dis- 
count, and says that the administration is firmly determined 
to try the experiment of collecting and disbursing the reve- 
nues of the Government without the use of Banks. I have 

^ Felix Grundy of Virginia, served as Attorney-General under Van Buren, 
September, 1838, to December, 1839, when he resigned to sit in the Senate in the 
place of Ephraim H. Foster. In 1838 he was instructed to vote against the Sub- 
Treasury system, which he did even though favoring it. 

2 Appointed by Jackson Minister to France, but later filled the place of Taze- 
well in the Senate. In 1834 Mr. Rives resigned in "consequence of his unwilling- 
ness to participate in the Senate's vote of censure on President Jackson's re- 
moval of the United States Bank deposits, of which he approved, but which the 
Virginia Legislature reprobated." He was returned again to the Senate in 1835 
where he remained until 1845. In January, 1837, he voted for Thomas H. Benton's 
"expunging resolution." 

^ Thomas Morris was nominated for Vice-President by the Liberty Party at 
the Buffalo Convention in 1844, but died one month later. 

* William Allen of Ohio, elected to the House in 1833, in 1837 was elected 
a United States Senator. When in the Senate he was nicknamed "Earthquake 
Allen." 



"To Henry Clay 2()() 

been upon terms of intimacy with M"" Cambrelling for many- 
years, and am very certain that He has given me his views 
in perfect sincerity, and that there is no one In Congress 
who Is better acquainted with the sentiments of the President 
and his Cabinet.^ . . . 

BiDDLE TO Henry Clay 

(confidential) Phil^ Feby. 3. 1838 

12 o'clock Saturday night 
My dear Sir, 

You may readily suppose that we are not idle while 
this insane Sub Treasury scheme is urged forward to break 
down all the great interests of the country — and prepara- 
tions are made to obtain from our legislature at Harrlsburgh 
instructions to our representatives in Congress to oppose It. 
I learn from a friend who has just left me on his arrival from 
Harrlsburgh to night, that the resolutions for that purpose 
were to be introduced Into the House of Rep^ this day. If so, 
they will be taken up on Monday — & If then passed will be 
sent to the Senate & passed finally on Tuesday. 

I lose no time therefore In suggesting that you would keep 
up the debate in the Senate for a few days until the resolu- 
tions can reach you. I attach great Importance to this measure 
as separating our State from these desperadoes, and the coun- 
try looks to you eminently to exert your great powers as 
they have been so often before displayed for its protection. 

1 On January 29, 1838, Webster wrote to Benjamin D. LilHman as follows: 
"We begin the proceeding on the S.T. Bill tomorrow. It will probably pass this 
House, without amendment, by 2 or 3 votes. Its fate in the other House is greatly 
doubtful. The decision on the Mississippi election is expected to day or to morrow. 
The Sub Treasury Bill may, perhaps, be a good (deal) dependent on the decision." 
Van Tyne, C. H., Letters of Daniel Webster (New York, 1902), p. 211. 



300 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



Henry Clay to Biddle 

Sunday night lo O'clock 
(Feb. 5. 1838) 
My Dear Sir 

I have this moment rec'^. your letter, and rejoice at 
the movement which it states to be in contemplation. Bu- 
chanan told me that he would obey instructions. I hope 
they will come. They may [be] decisive of the fate of the 
atrocious measure. 
The final question shall not be taken this week.^ 

Henry Clay to BmDLE 

Washington, Feb. 6. 1 83 8. 
My dear Sir 

I received your favor of the 4^^. & met Mr. B. last 
night at a small party given at the house at which I board. 
I rallied him on the subject of instructions, & he remarked to 
me, as he had done once or twice before, that if they came, he 
would obey or resign, intimating, I thought, a preference for 
the latter alternative. 

We are now in the midst of the debate on the Treasury 
Bank, the denomination which should be given to it upon 
every occasion. Rives began a very good speech, yesterday, 
which he will finish to-day. I do not know that an occasion 
will present itself, but if it does, I will embrace it, to draw 
from Mr. B. a more explicit declaration. We will run them 
to the girt in the Senate. If they carry their abominable 
measure. It will not be by a majority of more than two votes. 

^ For Clay's opposition to the Sub-Treasury Bill, cf. Schurz, Henry Clay (Bos- 
ton, 1898), vol. u, pp. 139-142. 



From Daniel TVebster 3 o i 

I am worked almost to death, & to relieve myself, I have to 
engage the good offices of a young friend as an amanuensis. 

C. S. Baker to Biddle 

Harrisburg Thursday Feby 7'^ 1838 
My dear Sir 

Your favor of yesterday came duly to hand. The 
Sub Treasury Resolutions will be disposed of to-morrow. 
Thay could have been carried today but M' Johnson would 
not bring them up. The phil^ Delegation having taken a stand 
against Stevens on the Improvement bill and the Improve- 
ment bill being so intimately connected with Johnsons In- 
terest he feels that he ought not to be treated by the Whigs 
as they have treated him because Stevens has been pleased 
to trifle with our Interests. . . . 

Daniel Webster to Biddle 

Washington, Saturday noon 
(Feb. or May, 1838?) 
Dear Sir ' 

. . . The Sub Treasury bill remains in status quo. Cal- 
houn is moving heaven, earth, & — to obtain Southern votes 
for the measure. He labors to convince his Southern neigh- 
bors that its success will relieve them from their commercial 
dependence on the North. His plausibility, & endless perser- 
verance, have really effected a good deal. Even your relative 
Mr. C. Sheppard has been, & indeed now is, in a state of 
doubt. Still, I think the Bill cannot pass; but the majority 
will be Small. The labors of Mr Calhoun, & the power & 
patronage of the Executive, have accomplished more than 
I have thought possible. 



302 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



Charles S. Baker to Biddle 

Thursday evening Febry 8/38 
My Dear Sir 

This day has been one of no ordinary Character in 
Harrisburg. The Sub Treasury Resolutions were the orders of 
this day — we forced it through Committee of the whole at 
the point of the Bayonet. The Van Buren men are in a State 
of excitement I never saw surpassed — we have a vote of 49 
for 43 against, one of our Members Absent. It is impossible 
for them to bring all theire members into the House. If no 
screws gives way we shall have them through to morrow but 
it will be a hard contest. The Van Buren Men called the Yeas 
& Nays on us 17 different times on the Vote to adjourne — 
every man stood firm but we had to submit to an adjourn- 
ment on acct of our friends it being nearly 1/2 past 3 
OClock. . . , 

Charles S. Baker to BmDLE 

Harrisburg Feby 9*^ 1838 
My dear Sir 

We are still in the field of Battle. This morning we ex- 
pected to have carried our Resolutions but were disappointed 
by 3 of our men deserting to the enemy. I had examined every 
part and found all apparently safe. The danger Sprung upon 
us like a Tigers coming as it did from our own Ranks — but 
it would not answer — we contested the ground until i 
OClock when we moved to Adjourn the vote being 48 for 
48 against — the Motion lost. We then Immediately renewed 
the Motion intending to continue until we succeeded — our 
opponents then yielded us the field. All the Concentrated 



From Charles S. Baker 303 

powers of Washington appear to be here and the operations 
of this day have perfectly dismayed them — every thing was 
prepared by them to defeate us and they were certain of suc- 
cess. I feel we are in danger but nothing like defeated — It 
all turns upon the absent members and the disposition we 
shall be enabled to make of the 3 that deserted. I think we 
can get 2 at least back — you may Rest assured I shall not 
give up the field as easily as Napoleon gave up Waterloo. 
The Banks are lost sight of — but we consider on this (The 
Sub Treasury) depends greatly the Kind of bill we can get for 
our Banks. Our position is greatly strengthened by what we 
have all Ready done. We have broken assunder the majority 
in the House. We defeated without difficulty a proposition 
or amendment to Instruct our Senators to vote for the Sub 
Treasury. . . . 

Charles S. Baker to BmDLE 

Harrisburg February 14*^ 1838 
My Dear Sir 

The Resolutions are Slumbering In the Senate, the 
reason this — one of our men thinking the Matter closed im- 
mediately left for home — we must now watch to avail our- 
selves of the first Moment one of theire men is absent to get 
the last Resolution Stricken off. We have suffered much for 
want of a person In the house who fully understood all the 
trick of the trade — the Slightest effort in the house would 
have defeated It had there been some one present to prompt 
to action — three of our men again voted by mistake. It can 
pass any moment In the form it now is before the Senate. . . . 
please say if we can do no better must we pass the Resolu- 
tions as thay are — 



304 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



Charles S. Baker to Biddle 

Harrisburg February i6^^ 1838 
Friday evening 
My dear Sir 

Your favor of the 15*^ Ins* came duly to hand and I am 
truly happy that this days acts in the Senate will meet with 
your Kindest favour. This day I determined to pass the Reso- 
lutions and made Known my wishes to D"" Burden who accord- 
ingly took the floor and called them up. The War Hoop was 
immediately raised but it would not do. D*" Burden foiled 
them at every point and forced them through at the point of 
the Bayonet truly. The Resolutions ^ are now on there way 
to Washington and to morrow we shall endeavour to pass an 
explanation of what we mean by the compliment to Martin 
Van Buren — This is of course Humbug — The explana- 
tion will only pass as the views of the Senate. . . . 

Henry Clay to BmoLE 

Wash" 20*\ Feb. 1838 
My Dear Sir 

I have rec*^. your favor of the 18*^. The Resolutions 
from Harrisburg have produced the effect of securing an- 
other vote in that of Mr. Buchanan ag^ the Gov^ Bank. He 
presented them yesterday morning and gave in his adhesion 
before I reached the Senate, from which I was detained half 
an hour, in consequence of a Speech which I had to deliver, 
and did deliver, against that measure. It was wise in your 
Senate to pass the resolutions ^ as they went from the House, 

* Cong. Glohe, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., vol. vi, p. 190. 

2 Van Buren was kept informed of conditions at Harrisburg as the following 
letter of Salisbury of February 17, 1838, illustrates: "It cannot be doubted for a 



From yohn Sergeant 305 

notwithstanding the two exceptionable paragraphs. The good 
in them more than counter balanced the bad, as the event has 
already proved. We now probably stand 26 against 26. One 
more vote would defeat the vile measure. We have a prospect 
of getting that by an instruction from Richmond to Mr. Roane 
but it is not certain. If it comes, he will obey it. Could it not 
be obtained from Trenton ? Why could not a positive instruc- 
tion (the Gen' Assembly instructs its Senators & requests its 
Representatives &c) emanate from that quarter.? It would, 
I believe, decide Mr. Wall.^ I think he would obey. And as 
he acknowledged such an obligation, it might be given with- 
out justly wounding the sensibility of Mr. Southard. . . . 

John Sergeant to BmoLE 

{Private) Washington, April 28'^. 1838. 

My dear Sir, 

Referring to what I wrote yesterday, I would now add, 
that there is a strong jealousy of New York rising in the 
South. You know the schemes of the Southrons ^ for get- 
moment that motives most unworthy have induced seven members of the House of 
Representatives to forego the solemn and imposing duties which they owed their 
constituents. . . . Here then we have before us a practical illustration of the im- 
mense and alarming power of the banks, whose agents have been and now are as 
thick as bees prowling about the halls of both houses of our legislature." Van 
Buren MSS. in Library of Congress. 

^ Cf. Mr. Wall's speech on the Sub-Treasury setting forth his views on the 
measure in Cong. Globe, 25th Cong., 2d Sess., vol. vi, 1838, Appendix, pp. 230 e/ seq. 

2 The South fully appreciated the importance of their position and power dur- 
ing this struggle, as is evidenced in the following letter of Pickens to Hammond, 
February 9, 1838: "There is much doubt as to the passage. The vote will be close 
& much depends upon our delegation. . . • There never was such a time for the 
South to control as at present, if we would be united. The great struggle is whether 
cotton shall control exchange & importations or whether the Banks & the stock 
interest shall do it. The South will be more prosperous under cotton at loc & no 
banks converted connected with the government lending its credit & power to the 
stock interest than we would be under cotton at 13c & the reverse of these things. 



3 o 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

ting their own trade into their own hands. What support they 
have given to the Sub-Treasury has been to promote this 
view. The mass of them have been sincere. M^ Calhoun ^ 
has used it only to cloak his ambition. They are now alarmed 
at the prospect of a new union of the money power, with the 
political power by means of the free banking law of New 
York. The question is whether in this jealousy, (the present 
predominat feeling, whether well or ill founded) there is not 
a ground for an union of the Bank U.S. with the South. If you 
can make friends there, you will soon have Penns^., for she 
always goes with the South. I throw this out for your con- 
sideration. As you are to steer, of course you will observe 
where the wind is to come from. . . . 

We will have a great contest & one which will fix our prosperity for 20 years, one 
way or the other." And as Pickens viewed the subject the South would be foolish to 
summit to cunning and fraud any longer. Hammond MSS. in Library of Congress. 

However, a good explanation for the position of the South on the Sub-Treasury 
and the motives which impelled it to stand by the Administration in these dajs is 
given in a letter of Alfred H^^er (?) to Poinsett, September i, 1838: "As to the 
S.T. I really know very little about it . . . but surely, a very little reflection must 
teach every Southern man who is willing to be taught what our policy is. ' The Bank 
& the metallic basis ' — & the 'paper currency ' are all debatable questions — but 
the Black Currency is not. How am I to be benefited by either 'Bank' or 'Sub- 
Treasury' without my land on Cooper River & the Negroes that work there? What 
signifies to me all the jargon about Whigs & Conserv-atives etc. etc. if the aboli- 
tionists stand between me & the White Gate at Longwood? these are the inquiries 
that make me an administration man — with me the very foundation of liberty is 
slavery & I go for Mr. Van Buren because Mr. Van Buren goes for me & it would 
be worse than hypocrisy in me to be hunting about for better reasons than this with 
a strong current sitting against us, with the whole world looking angrily at our in- 
stitution & the prevailing feeling of mankind plainly developing a disposition to 
overthrow them, how can the South aff'ord to talk about this man, or that man, with 
the message of the President & the actions conforming to his message staring us 
in the face?" Poinsett MSS. in Pennsylvania Historical Society Library. 

^ By this period Calhoun realized that his alliance with the Whig Party would 
absorb his followers and that a coalition with the party in power would better serve 
his purposes. Accordingly he broke his alliance with the Whig Party. For a care- 
ful and illuminating discussion of Calhoun's actions at this time, cf. Cole, Whig 
Party in the South, pp. 46-48. 



To yohn Forsyth 307 



BiDDLE TO John Forsyth * 

{confidential) PhiI^ April 30, 1838 — 

My dear Sir — 

. . . The Bank of the U. States owes about six millions 
of dollars to the Gov*, payable by instalments due in Sepf 
nxt — Sep. 1839-Sep. 1840. Now the Bank might anticipate 
these payments at once, and put the Gov', in funds for its 
pressing wants. In this Settlement, as it is the payment of a 
debt and does not come under the Same line as the ordinary 
revenue — there need be no operation of specie payment or 
any other payment, for the public creditor would be too 
happy to receive a draft on the Bank with the option of asking 
specie for it if he choose to demand it, just as the Secretary 
of the Navy last year paid the pensioners. 

The first effect of such an arrangement would be to quiet the 
minds of the people as to what is regarded as the hostility of 
the Gov^ to the Banks — the most serious obstacle at pres- 
ent to a general restoration of the Currency — and it would 
go further than any other measure I know to promote that ob- 
ject. An easy consequence of this would be a return to some- 
thing like the ancient habits of inter course between the Bank 
& the Gov*, which would lead to this result. I think that the 
Gov*, may be satisfied that no System could work better than 
thatof the late Bank of the U.S. Now the present Bank is only 
the late Bank with no change except in the origin of its char- 
ter. Its whole machinery can be remounted in twenty four 
hours — and thence forward it can, without difficulty, engage 
to receive & disburse the public funds in every part of the 
U.S. without any charge whatever, in specie or its equivalent, 

* Secretary of State in Van Buren's Cabinet. 



3 o 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

at the option of the public creditor. If therefore by a simple 
arrangement of that Kind with the Bank, you can restore 
the administration of the funds to its former footing, you 
accomplish several objects. The first of course is that the work 
of the Gov^ is well done. The second is that you are relieved 
from all connection in detail with a multitude of banks, the 
fruitful source of trouble & political danger. Then you get rid 
of the debatable question of the National Bank — You avoid 
the embarrassment of retracting any fixed opinions — you 
restore in the most effectual way you can, at least you con- 
tribute as far as you can to restore, the currency. 

Finally, you thus get peace — not a bad thing at any time 
— but a remarkably good thing at this time. For myself — 
this business of Texas, and a much more Important matter 
which I project, make me desire to close up these old sources 
of discontent. I am therefore singularly pacific & amiable 
just now. 

It seems to me then, that you have an opportunity of 
making a political movement — a coup d'etat worth trying. 
I believe that at this moment a reconciliation between the 
Bank & the Gov\ would do more both at home & abroad to 
settle our troubles than any other measure that could be 
adopted. Its influence here in disarming the hostility of those 
who consider the Gov*, as Indisposed to the credit system, you 
may estimate better than I can. This could be done simply 
by putting aside the Sub treasury bill, and all other projects, 
and leaving the whole matter on the footing of the resolution 
of 1816, which would make it the subject of treasury regu- 
lation. 

Having thus unburdened my mind, I leave the rest to you, 
if you think the suggestion worth following out. If not. It of 



From Henry Clay 309 

course rests between ourselves, as no one will be aware of the 
contents of this letter. The negociation for anticipating the 
first Instalment is going on under the auspices of the gentle- 
man who has had charge of it — but the occasion seems a 
good one to follow out the mere intended arrangement here 
suggested. 

Henry Clay to Biddle 

Wash". 30*'' May 1838 
My Dear Sir 

I rec*^. your favor of the 28*^*" Ins^ You will have seen 
that the resolution, which had passed the Senate, rescinding 
the Specie Circular,^ has also passed the House this morn- 
ing in less than three hours after it was rec*^ by a majority of 
more than five to one ! 

I sincerely hope that the condition of your Bank Is such as 
to admit of your seizing this occurrence to make an early re- 
sumption. I am extremely anxious on your account as well 
as that of the public that your Bank shall continue to main- 
tain its high character 

You will have seen and you will comprehend the object and 
the benefits of the movement I made, in respect to a Bank of 
the U.S. It will turn public attention to the subject in the 
abstract. It will suspend or render harmless malignant at- 
tacks on your Bank. And it may even reconcile the public 
ultimately to the grant of a National Charter to your Bank. 
I should be satisfied with either. 

^ The Specie Circular was rescinded by a joint resolution of May 21, 1838, 
which forbade the Secretary of the Treasury "to make or to continue in force, any 
general order, which shall create any difference between the different branches of 
revenue, as to the money or medium of payment, in which debts or dues, accruing 
to the United States, may be paid." Cf. U.S. Statutes at Large, vol. v, p. 310. 



3 1 o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Altho' I did not think it right to allude to our conversation 
on the few remarks I addressed to the Senate, I have to sev- 
eral friends said that Mr. Biddle elevated 'patriotism made him 
look above the interests of the particular institution with which 
he is charged to the welfare of his Country. 

TO RoswELL L. Colt ^ 

May 30, 1838 
My dear Sir, 

Tonight my advices from Wash° are that the virtual 
repeal of the Specie Circular which has passed the Senate will 
pass the House in a day or two. 

This will satisfy us — & I will make an immediate move 
for a general resumption in conjunction with the South & 
West — and a decision upon the New York application. 

This will give an opportunity of repairing the losses of 
your friends which I have often heard you deplore 

TO Biddle ^ 



Private as murder (1838) 

I will tell you a short story. I left W. for Boston, In 
April. I signified to my friends that on my return I should 
bring fonvard a measure, by Itself, for repealing the Treasury 
order, & should put It In the same form, as my amendment, 
introduced for the same purpose, Into the Sub-Tresury Bill. 
They all thought it would be a good move; & one of them said 
to me, as you have mentioned your purpose, and It will be- 
come known, lest you should be anticipated, you will do well to 

* There is no signature to this letter, but it is in Biddle's handwriting. 

2 This letter, undated, was undoubtedly written in May, 1838, and throws an 
interesting side-light on politics in Washington at this period. It is in Webster's 
handwriting. 



To Samuel jfaudon 311 

mention it to Mr. C. Accordingly, with that friend, I walked 
over to Mr C's lodgings, the Evening before I left Washing- 
ton, explained my purpose to M"" C. & assured him that the 
first day after my return, I should bring forward the measure 
if, in the mean time, the H. of R. should not take up the 
Sub-Treasury Bill. 

After I had been heard of, on my return, at New York, 
& one or two days before my arrival here, Mr C. brought 
forward a Resolution himself — and some considerable bruit 
ensued, about his promptitude to aid the mercantile interest 
& so the world goes ! 

Burn this — as it is libellous, in the extreme — ) 

BmDLE TO Samuel Jaudon 

PhiK May 31, 1838 
My dear Sir, 

. . . The tide now has begun to turn, and the Bank 
has received to day a triumph such as it never enjoyed in any 
part of its career. You know that the stand taken by the Bank 
was, that it would not resume until the Gov*^. changed its 
course, as there could be no security for specie payments 
while the Gov*^. itself made the distinction between specie & 
notes. Accordingly the contest has literally been between 
the Bank & the Executive. With what result you will see by 
the proceedings of yesterday when on the very same day the 
Specie Circular was repealed in the Senate by a vote of 34 to 
9, and in the House by 154 to 29. I have immediately en- 
deavoured to justify the confidence of the country by issuing 
a note to M' Adams ^ in which suppressing all feelings of 

* Biddle's letters to Mr. Adams are reprinted in Niles, April 14, 1838, and May 
31. 1838. 



312 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

triumph, I merely announced the fact that we should now 
proceed to take measures for resumption. At the same time 
we resolved to yield to our New York friends who wished us 
to have a Branch there under the new Banking law. This 
application is itself one of the most extraordinary symptoms 
of the good feeling which pervades the commercial commu- 
nity of New York. I send you an extract from the newspa- 
per of to-day containing a notice of it, as well as my letter to 
M^ Adams — & I will inclose, if they can be prepared In 
time, copies of the correspondence with M*" Adams on the 
subject. 

I now mean to turn my immediate attention to mak- 
ing a simultaneous movement in the South & West, so as 
to make the resumption really worth having — & I hope 
to be able to rally up the whole country to an efficient 
exertion. 

The efforts made here to injure the Bank and which are 
echoed on your side, have ceased to have any effect here, & 
the Bank will probably be In a more desirable situation than 
it ever was. 

I shall even not be very much surprized if some coquetting 
passes between our administration friends and the Bank, as 
we are in a singularly amiable humour. 

You know that Woodbury is appointed Chief Justice of 
New Hampshire & leaves the Treasury, being in fact turned 
out In the shape of a resignation; so that according to Euro- 
pean ideas, the President's ordinance being repealed, by both 
Houses of Congress, & the Minister who Issued It being dis- 
missed. It may be regarded as a civil revolution on the side of 
the Bank. . . . 



To yohn Sergeant 3 1 3 



BiDDLE TO Samuel Jaudon 

Phl^. June 9, 1838 
My dear Sir, 

We received yesterday your letter of the 5^'' ulto. I 
am not surprized that the echo in London of all the trash cir- 
culated here has annoyed you. But we have surmounted them 
on this side — and I think the Bank stands even better now 
than it ever did in the general estimation. You will have seen 
that we hailed the first glimpse of sunshine offered by the 
repeal of the Specie Circular. But as soon as it passed, the 
party of the Administration rallied upon the Sub Treasury 
Bill. That bill, as you know, passed the Senate, but is now 
in such a position in the House that it cannot be reached with- 
out a vote of two thirds. Accordingly M"" Cambreling has 
brought in a fresh bill which a majority can control, & which 
the Administration mean to push thro' the House. If this be 
the case, it will undo all that has hitherto been done. M"" Ser- 
geant is here on a visit, and he thinks the matter so critical, 
& is so anxious to obtain even a single vote that we are about 
sending down some people to Washington to explain to the 
representatives from our State how extremely injurious to its 
interests such a bill would prove, and urging them to defeat 
it. With what success a week will determine. . . . 

BmDLE TO John Sergeant 

PhIK June 15, 1838 
My dear Sir, 

We are doing some little matters about the Sub 
Treasury bill, which, from all I can understand, will not pass. 
At the same time I wish to omit nothing to prevent its pas- 



3 1 4 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

sage — and therefore I will thank you to send me by return 
of mail if convenient, a list marked with all those who you are 
sure will vote against it, & let me know also how many votes 
you want in addition. Perhaps we may prove to some of our 
Penn^ members, that their course is injurious to the state & 
to themselves. 



Biddle to Samuel Jaudon 

PhiK June 23, 1838 
My dear Sir, 

... I think now we are approaching the end of our 
war. The repeal of the Specie Circular was an actual surren- 
der by the Administration — but since then, they have ral- 
lied in great force on the Sub-Treasury bill which was sup- 
posed to be dead & buried. The real political secret of this 
bill is that the most of the Adm'^. party do not like it — 
that M"" Calhoun is driving them into it in order to promote 
his own advancement. I think however it will be defeated. 
Then we shall come to some modification of the deposit sys- 
tem. What I wish to establish is that the business of the 
country & the public revenue shall pass through Banks — 
& not thro' mere receivers — and this I think we shall es- 
tablish at last. . . . 

Biddle to Samuel Jaudon 

PhiK June 29, 1838 
My dear Sir, ^ 

I have but a moment, as usual, to write, as the Bank 
\ is closing, & the mail for the Sirius going. 

The repeal of the Specie Circular has been followed by 



To Thaddeus Stevens 3 1 5 

a fresh defeat in the rejection of the Sub-Treasury.^ M"" 
Buchanan has renewed the matter of the special deposit, but 
it will fail. 

In England we should have seen an instant change of min- 
istry. Here ministers are engaged on wages for a year — & 
however they may misbehave, will serve out their term. On 
the 9^*^ of July, Congress will adjourn — and then the Ad- 
ministration, poor & dispirited, will be brought to reason as 
wild beasts are tamed by hunger. 

Remember that whatever you may read to the contrary, 
the repeal of the Specie Circular & the defeat of the Sub 
Treasury are the results, exclusively, of the course pursued 
by the Bank of the U.S. If we had done as the New York 
Banks had, succumbed to the Gov*. & resumed when they 
did, it would have been a surrender at discretion. I was 
willing to risk the temporary overshadowing to have a per- 
manent sunshine; and I think we shall soon have it. . . . 

BiDDLE TO ThADDEUS StEVENS 

PhiK July 3, 1838 
My dear Sir 

You are a magician greater than Van Buren, & with 
all your professions against Masonry, you are an absolute 
right worshipful Grand Master. I received yesterday your 
letter of the 27''' ult°. and to day I write the letter to the Gov^ 
of which of which I annex a copy. This is worth to you a 
dozen resumptions. On that subject you will talk all the truth 
you dare, and if you can persuade our worthy friends that 
this is a matter to be decided exclusively by business & not 
politics you will do good service to the good cause. 

^ The vote to reconsider the measure was lost in the House, 205 to 21. 



3 1 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 



BiDDLE TO Joel R. Poinsett 

{Private) PhiK July ii, 1838 

Dear Sir 

M*" Kimble of the House of Representatives called 
upon me today and expressed to me a wish on your part to 
know whether the bonds of the Bank could be made available 
for the use of your Department. I hasten to say that from a 
desire to promote the public service, as well as from consid- 
erations personal to yourself, it will afford me great pleasure 
to do anything which may contribute to the successful ad- 
ministration of your Department. 

There are, as you are aware, three bonds payable on the 
l^' of October of 1838-39 & 40, respectively. The two which it 
is proposed to sell cannot be sold either in this country or in 
Europe, and the money can be furnished for them by the 
Bank only. But I should be disposed to advance the money 
on the first, second, and perhaps third of them, if it could 
be made the interest of both the Department and the Bank. 
If therefore you can in the first instance so arrange it as to 
have the bonds placed at your disposition to raise the money 
on them, and let me know how and where and when your 
disbursements are to be made, I will at once tell you what 
I can do. 

BmoLE TO Thomas Cooper 

PhiK July 13, 1838 
My dear Sir 

. . . You have seen that during this late tempest I took 
a deliberate stand against the administration determined to 
do nothing until they were defeated, and I know that this 



From R. M. Blatchford 3 1 7 

opposition caused their defeat. Now having triumphed, the 
resumption of specie payment will be speedy and effectual. 

BiDDLE TO R. M. Blatchford 

PhIK July 31, 1838 
My dear Sir 

I will thank you to take charge of a Httle matter which 
may become important unless wisely managed. The Bank 
has just made a settlement, mutually advantageous to both 
parties, with the Gov'. To you, who know all the bearings 
of such a measure, I need not say, that I regard It as the ter- 
mination of the war, & therefore of great benefit alike to the 
Bank, and to the country. But If It be a matter of advantage to 
the Bank, or of triumph to its friends, like all triumphs It should 
be enjoyed with moderation. In noticing It therefore, by the 
press, I would specially avoid everything like exultation — 
everything like reproach to the administration as being forced, 
at last, to resort to the Bank. But on the contrary the admin- 
istration should be treated as having done a good thing, and 
should have credit for a pacification which cannot fail to 
be useful to the country. It may be of some consequence to 
the Adm". to see that they do not expose themselves, by this 
step, to sneers and sarcasms from their political opponents. 

Will you have the goodness to suggest this as the proper 
tone to be adopted by our friends in New York? 

R. M. Blatchford to Biddle 

New York Aug: i, 1838 
My dear Sir 

I had the honor of receiving this morning Your letter 
of Yesterday. 



3 1 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

The best answer I can give to It Is the two extracts which 
I enclose — one from the Commercial — the other from the 
Star — they were prepared in haste but I believe they em- 
body the spirit of Your Suggestions. I shall not approach the 
American on the subject — The Courier & Express I will take 
care of this afternoon. 

I am heartily glad that the War is ended. 

P.S. I have written to Albany in order that a proper tone 
will be assured by the Evening Journal which is after all the 
controlling Whig paper in this State. 

Biddle to Samuel Jaudon 

PhiK Aug*. 3, 1838 
My dear Sir 

Leaving to our friends Mess". Cowperthwalt & Dun- 
lap to give you all the details, I shall employ the only few 
moments of leisure I can command before the sailing of the 
Steamship, to say two or three things which may interest 
you. 

I. We have settled with Gov*, for our bonds, and settled 
in a way particularly agreeable. You know my opinion, which 
I have never concealed. In regard to the Individuals who 
have for the last ten years governed the country. These 
opinions are confirmed rather than changed. But looking, as 
I do, to what I deem the great Interests of the country, & 
specially bound to protect the Interests committed to my 
charge, my object has been to bring the existing Gov^ to 
such a course of measures as would remedy present evils, 
until some political revolution should restore wiser counsels 
at Washington. To bring this about, there was no safe course 



To Samuel yaudon 3 1 9 

but one of open and decided defiance, to show that the Bank 
was not at all afraid of the administration, and would not 
depart from its own policy until the Gov^ had renounced 
the follies which it was laboring to propagate. Accordingly 
it became necessary to say that the Bank U.S. and the other 
banks would not resume specie payments until the Gov^ had 
announced its own policy. The parties stood in that attitude, 

— the good cause weakened by the desertion & the weakness 
of those New York 2 1/2 per cent patriots — but still strong 
enough to face the enemy. Our efforts were of course directed 
to the repeal of the specie circular, & when that was done, 
and the adm". made a last rally on the sub treasury bill, by 
great exertion they were defeated on that point. This settled 
the matter. The real question, as you know perfectly well, 
was, whether the Gov^ should carry on Its finances by the In- 
strumentality of banks, or of special receivers of Gold & Sil- 
ver only; and the vote of the H. of Rep^ decided that the 
sense of the country was for the old mode. The adjournment 
of Congress hastened the process of repentance, by leaving 
the Adm". without any means of carrying on the public busi- 
ness, unless by the sale of the Bonds. I had taken my own 
position in that narrow defile, thro' which I was sure they 
would have to pass, and where accordingly we met. What be- 
fel, you may Imagine, — since we have come out good friends ; 

— and after a little coquetry and a little flirtation, I think it 
not improbable that M' (not M") Woodbury & I will be ten- 
der & true, after the Douglass fashion. 

The settlement is in this form : 

The first bond due in September next, will be divided 
into three instalments, payable on the 15^^. of August, 
September and October, respectively. 



3 2 o Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

The second bond, due In September 1839, is Immediately 

cashed on the i®' ins*. 

The third; the Sec^ Is not yet sufficiently pressed to sell 

— but when he does sell, we are to have the refusal. 
The money is placed at once to the credit of the Treasurer 
of the United States, & remains on deposit with us — with- 
out Interest — and the Sec^ gives a List, & the Sec^ of War 
gives another list, of the points where he wants the disburse- 
ments made, which embrace the whole West & South West, 
and the warrants of the Treasurer are drawn on the Bank of 
the United States, payable In Missouri, Arkansas &c &c. 

The benefit of time and exchange are thus apparent — and 
the Bank is now actually a depository of the public money; 
— so that the result Is, that, after all the nonsense of the 
last few years, the Gov\ takes in payment of a bond, a credit 
in a bank which does not pay specie yet, and which had de- 
clared that it did not mean to pay specie until that very 
Gov* had abandoned Its course. Our Washington friends 
are scarcely aware of the concession which this Involves, and 
I have taken pains, throughout the country, that the opposi- 
tion should indulge in no exultation — no sarcasm — noth- 
ing which should startle the treasury and blight our budding 
loves; — for my present Intention Is to make the Bank a 
general depository of the funds of the Gov^ You know what 
a difficult and almost Incredible work that will be, — but 
there is no room for despair after what has occurred, — for 
the partlzans of the Gov*, are not yet recovered from the 
amazement caused by this recent Inexplicable movement. 

You see that we resume on the 13*^ of this month. We be- 
gin without having sacrificed any great interest. We begin 
with a wide circle of resumers, whom our delay has enabled to 



From B 321 

prepare; — and we begin after having fairly beaten down the 
Gov^, and secured the ascendency of reason for the future. 
We arrive in port without having been under the necessity 
of throwing over any of our cargo. We arrive, for every useful 
purpose, just as soon as our neighbours, who lost over board 
a large part of the passengers; and we only stopped on the 
way to sink a pirate. So that, on the whole, I have no reason 
to be dissatisfied with our course. 

2. Just as we were preparing our machinery for the New 
York concern, we found, to our great surprize, that under the 
law it was doubtful whether the Bank, as a corporation, could 
become an associate, and we were obliged to give up our 
plan. I think it very probable, however, that the object will 
be accomplished, even in a better form, if we make an ar- 
rangement with a small association to do our business in New 
York. We say nothing of this on our side of the water; but I 
think that the arrival after you receive this, will give you de- 
tails. I mention it now, merely that you may know that we 
shall probably soon do the largest commercial business in 
New York. . . . 

B ^ TO BiDDLE 

Phil^ Aug* 1 1 th 1838 
My dear Sir 

I have had quite an interesting interview with a Loco 
Foco friend who has returned last night from the South. He 
has been as far south as the Springs and has had very free 
conversations with the President relative to the Party and 
the future prospects of the greate Democratic family. The 

1 This letter is in the handwriting of C. S. Baker, who had maneuvered the 
Resolutions against the Sub-Treasury through the Pennsylvania Legislature. 



32 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

result of my friends mission is very satisfactory. As He w£S 
commissioned by me for the purpose of ascertaining the 
views entertained by the President toward the Bank of the 
United States he turned his attention to that subject entirely. 
He urged upon the President the absolute necessity there 
was of abandoning the present policy and hinted that in his 
opinion the only way of defeating M"" Clay was by making 
Peace with the Bank of the U States. The President received 
his Hint in a very gracious manner and said he was in the 
Hands of the poeple and If thay resolved to have the Govern- 
ment connected with the Bank He the President would not 
oppose the will of the majority when it had been clearly ex- 
pressed. The President agreed with him that if M' Rives of 
Virg^ could be reconciled it would be accomplishing much to- 
wards a Reconcilliation of the differences that had recently ex- 
isted in the party. This would be a death blow to the Con- 
servative party and then remarked my friend would not the 
withdrawing of the Bank of the United States from the whig 
party produce the same effect upon them (the Whigs) as the 
loss of M*" Rives would be to the Conservative Interest. The 
president remarked, it is entitled to consideration, my im- 
pression is it would. To sum up my friend is impressed with 
the Idea that the President is personally very anxious for a 
Reconcilliation and If M"" Rives will consent to run as Vice 
president theire would be no difficulty in making the arrange- 
ments. All the best plans of getting back to the old Land 
marks of the party were discussed — the disposition to be 
made of Blaire & others conditioned an arraingement of this 
Kind were entered Into was glanced at and considered per- 
fectly feasible. The greatest difficulty appeared to be the con- 
summation of the act. The disposition or feeling is Right — 



From "Thomas Cooper 323 

... I have also a Letter from my Virginia friend. He re- 
marks the President is quite wearied in fighting Banks and 
feels that he has been defeated by the monsters — to Speak 
more plainly The President attributes the defeate of the Sub 
Treasury to the Influence of the Bank of the U States — my 
friend Remarked to the President in the coarse of the con- 
versation " I should think it bad policy to have in the ^field 
so formidable a foe." The President smiled and said Mr 
Biddle was a hard opponent — more when I have the honour 
of an interview. 

Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

Columbia 14 Aug. 1838. S. Car. 
Dear Sir 

I wish to state why I penned the communication I 
have lately sent. You need not write to me in reply, but re- 
flect on my suggestions, i. Webster, Clay, Van Beuren, are the 
next presidential Candidates. Clay goes for a national bank, 
hut not for yours. Van Beuren wishes to be driven into the 
adoption of one at Washington, under his eye & control. 

I think Clay looks to the same Site, for the same reason. 

Whether Webster goes with you or not, I cannot tell : prob- 
ably yes. 

If Clay can get the votes of New York or Pennsylvania, 
his chances for election are good. Van Beuren will get per- 
haps a majority of the South: I greatly dislike the ultra 
federalism of Webster, but it is clear to me, your interest is 
allied to his; and that his success depends on overcoming the 
reasonable republican prejudices of New York & Pennsyl- 
vania against him. 

Hence, it is of great importance, if you wish a reinstatement, 



3 24 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

to stand fair before the populace in a political point of view. 
Without this, you cannot counteract Clay: I should say, keep 
up the ball I have thrown up into the air by frequent discus- 
sions in the papers. You have honest, honourable, popular 
ground to place your foot on, firmly. . . . These are my no- 
tions; I have no desire to know yours: therefore you need not 
write to me on the subject. I send directions, to make up, the 
part of my communication which was omitted for want of 
documents. I remain with kind respects . . . 

Biddle to Samuel Jaudon 

Philad^ August 15, 1838 
My dear Sir 

I have little to add to what I wrote by the Royal Wil- 
liam, of which I enclose a copy. 

Our arrangements with the Gov^ are in very satisfactory 
progress. We have placed to their credit the proceeds of the 
two first bonds, and they indicate the points of disbursements, 
which, being very remote and numerous, afford the ad- 
vantages of circulation & exchange. But the greatest satis- 
faction of all is, that this arrangement brings back the Gov^ 
to its old position of doing its business thro' Banks, and by 
means of Bank credits. So, the triumph, is, I think, com- 
plete. The two political parties, meanwhile, are confounded, 
and are not yet able to comprehend it. The Adm° people be- 
lieve that I must have bought M' Van Buren, — the opposi- 
tion fearing that this will strengthen the ministry and work 
against the interests of M' Clay. You know that my own 
course has reference merely to the service of the Country, 
and if these people are beaten Into measures that are bene- 
ficial, I shall not permit myself to avoid co-operating with 



To Daniel TVebster 325 

them, lest it should injure the prospects of our political party. 
The great power of the Bank lies in its total independence 
of all of them. 

Our resumption on the 13*^'' works very well, the demand 
for specie being very small. 

BiDDLE TO Daniel Webster ^ 

PhiK Septem 6, 1838 
My dear Sir 

I stated to you, last year, my views in regard to Texas ; 
and you then thought that if the plan of annexation to the 
United States could be abandoned, every consideration of 
feeling & interest would conspire to make us desire its pros- 
perity. That question is now settled. M"" Jones, the new 
Minister, arrived two days ago in Phil^., and he is instructed 
to withdraw the proposal of union. This troublesome part 
of the question being thus disposed of, I am much inclined 
to think that if their loan of Five millions were taken in the 
United States, it would be far better than if they were 
obliged to seek it in England. I do not however wish to mix 
myself with the political contests of the day nor to interfere 
in matters which have been the subject of party warfare; and 
I should like to have the benefit of the opinions of judicious 
friends before doing something final in respect to it. Will you 
then say, whatever you feel at liberty to say, in the question, 
whether it would not be greatly for the interest of our com- 
mon country that Texas should continue independent of all 
foreign nations, — that she should be protected by this coun- 
try and not permitted, if possible, to owe her prosperity to 
any other aid than ours. Say, too, whether your opinion is 

^ Cf. letter on same topic reprinted in Van Tyne, Webster, p. 213. 



326 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

that Texas can maintain its independence, or whether, in the 
last extremity, this country would permit her to be con- 
quered, or reconquered; and, being free, whether you think 
a loan to her would be perfectly safe. You will readily under- 
stand, by the strain of these remarks, that I am predisposed 
to serve Texas, because I believe I should benefit our coun- 
try by it; but, before taking any decisive step, I would wish 
to have your judgment, because I know that your opinion 
will be an impartial and a patriotic one. If any circumstance, 
public or private, indisposes you to answer, I request that you 
will not answer. But if you incline to speak, — speak — for 
I think the occasion worthy of you. and so speak that if, when 
I have decided, I should want the benefit of your judgment to 
sanction my course, I may have it and use it publicly or pri- 
vately. I will only add that what you say I wish you to say 
quickly. 

Biddle to Henry Clay 

PhiK Sept 7, 1838 
My dear Sir 

Your introduction of M"" Burnley, Commissioner of 
Texas, makes it not unnatural to confer with you on the sub- 
ject of the loan which he is endeavoring to negotiate. 

The subject of Texas is one familiar to me since my connec- 
tion in Paris, thirty three years ago, with the treaty of Louisi- 
ana,^ the execution of a great portion of which fell under my 
own personal inspection. On that subject I hold very decided 
opinions. But the question which now occupies my attention 

1 For Biddle's connection with the treaty of Louisiana, cf. Conrad, Robert T., 
Sketch of Nicholas Biddle, in National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, 
vol. Ill, pp. 12 et seq. 



"To Henry Clay 327 

is this: The Minister of Texas, just arrived & in this city, 
means to withdraw, formally, the proposal to enter the Union. 
So far, the embarrassments and troubles which that measure 
threatened are, for the present at least, removed. The ques- 
tion then becomes an open one, and it offers for considera- 
tion this point: Whether, if we are to consider the revolution 
there as complete, — if this country will not permit Texas 
to be conquered by a new master, or reconquered by its old 
one, then it is not of great importance that her prosperity 
should be of our own creation, and that she should not be 
obliged to incur obligations to any other country.^ She now 
wants money to consolidate her power & fix her institutions. 
Is it not better — far better — that she should obtain it from 
us than from any other power? Now I am inclined to make 
the loan. At the same time I mean to do nothing rashly — 
nothing which shall not, in my judgment, be highly benefi- 
cial to our Country. But I do not wish to take any decided 
step without the opinion of some friends on whose judgment 
I rely. Allow me then to ask what you think of the question.? 
Do you think that Texas will maintain its independence, or 
that the United States would permit any power to deprive 
her of it. Do you think it would be wise to take the loan and 
not suffer her to owe her success to England t 

If you feel any the slightest reluctance to say anything 
about the matter, you will of course say nothing. But if you 
feel disposed to give any opinion, let it be such as, hereafter, 
if I deem it useful to use your authority as confirming my 
own views, I may quote, and if necessary, make public. I 
mention this that you may limit, precisely, the nature & ex- 
tent of your communication. 



328 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Daniel Webster to Biddle 

Boston Sepf 10^^ 1838 
My Dear Sir 

I have rec^. your favor of the S^'' Instant. The decision 
of the Gov*^ of Texas, to withdraw its appHcation for a union 
with the U. States, is, in my judgment, an event, eminently 
favorable, to both countries. She now stands, as an independ- 
ant state, looking to her own power, & her own resources, to 
maintain her place among the nations of the earth, an atti- 
tude, vastly more respectable, than that which she held, while 
solicitous to her own political character, & to become part 
of a neighbouring country. Seeking, thus, no longer a union 
with us, & assuming the ground of entire independence — 
I think it highly important to the interests of the U. States, 
that Texas should be found able to maintain her position. 
Any connexion with a European State, so close as to make 
her dependent on that State, or to identify her interests with 
the interests of such State, I should regard as greatly unfor- 
tunate for us. I could not but regret, exceedingly, to see any 
union between those parts of our continent, which have 
broken the chain of European dependence & the Govern- 
ments of Europe; whether those, from which they have been 
disunited, or others. You Remember the strong opinion, ex- 
pressed by M^ Monroe that the U.S. could not consent to 
the recolonization of those portions of this Continent, which 
had severed the ties, binding them to a European connexion, 
& formed free & independent Governments for themselves ; or 
to the establishment of other European Colonies, in America 
— The spirit, & reason, of these sentiments, would lead us to 
regard with just fear, & therefore with just jealousy, any con- 



From Daniel TVebster 329 

nexions, between our near American neighbours, & the power- 
ful states of Europe, except those of friendly & useful com- 
mercial intercourse. It is easy to forsee the evils with which 
any other connexion, than that last mentioned, between 
Texas & one of the great sovereignties of Europe, — might 
threaten us. Not to avert to those of a high & political char- 
acter, one, likely to have a direct bearing on our commerce, a 
connexion on the great staple of our southern production. 
Texas is destined, doubtless, to be a great cotton producing 
country, & which we should cheerfully concede to her all the 
advantages which her soil & climate afford to her, in sus- 
taining a competition with ourselves, we could not behold, 
with indifference, a surrender, by her, of her substantial in- 
dependence, for the purchase of exclusive favors & privileges, 
from the hands of a European Government. 

The competency of Texas to maintain her Independence 
depends, I think, altogether on the character of her Gov*. & 
its administration. I have no belief, at all, in the power of 
Mexico to re-subjugate Texas, if the latter country shall be 
well governed. The same consideration decides, also, the ques- 
tion, whether a loan to Texas would be safe. I have supposed, 
that her new formed Gov* was gradually strengthening, & 
improving, in all the qualities requisite for the respectable 
exercise of National power. That in institutions so recent, 
there should be, for a time, some irregularity of action, is to 
be expected. But if those to whose hands her destinies are 
now committed, shall look steadily to two great objects, — 
first, real & absolute, as well as nominal, National Independ- 
ence, & second, the maintenance of a free & efficient Gov*., 
of which good faith shall, from the beginning, be a marked 
characteristic, I see nothing to render it less safe to regulate 



3 3 o Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

money transactions with her, than with the Gov*^ of other 
countries. On the other hand, if a spirit of speculation & 
project should appear to actuate her councils, & if she should 
trifle with her public domain, involve herself In contradic- 
tory obligations, — or seek to establish her prosperity on any 
other foundations, than those of justice & good faith, — there 
would, then, be little to be hoped, either in regard to punctu- 
ality in pecuniary engagements or to the probability of her 
maintaining an independent National character. 

My opinion, on the whole, is, that the prospects of Texas 
are now far better & brighter than they have ever been be- 
fore; that the Interests of our own country require, that she 
should keep herself free from all particular European con- 
nexion; & that whatever aid can be furnished to her, by in- 
dividuals, or corporations, in theU. States, in the present state 
of her affairs, to enable her to maintain a truly independent 
& national character, would tend to promote the welfare of 
the U States, as well as of Texas herself. 

Henry Clay to BmDLE 

Ashland 14*** Sept. 1838 
My Dear Sir 

I received this morning your favor of the y*'^ instant 
communicating several inquiries, respecting Texas, on which 
you are desirous to obtain my opinion. This I have not the 
least objection to express; but without a strong necessity I 
should not wish it to be published. And my aversion to its 
publication arises solely out of the consideration that, at 
this time, I desire voluntarily to appear In the public prints 
as little as possible, lest I should be thought to be endeavor- 
ing to conciliate public support. 



From Henry Clay 331 

I am glad to learn from you that the Minister from Texas 
Intends to withdraw the application from Texas to be Incor- 
porated in our Union. It is a wise step; for It is perfectly mani- 
fest that, whether It is expedient or not to annex It to the U. 
States, the public mind in this Country is not in a temper to 
sanction such a measure, at this period. The longer agitation 
of the question can do no possible good to our party, whilst It 
has a positively Injurious tendency upon the domestic Inter- 
ests and relations of the other. If the question were to be pro- 
longed, and a foreign attack, other than from Mexico, should 
be made on Texas, I think that a majority of the American 
Congress could not be got to succor Texas in warding off 
such an attack. Whereas, if the project of annexation be 
abandoned, and any European power were to attack the 
Independence of the new Republic, I think it would be the 
Inclination, as I am sure It would be the Interest and the duty 
of the U.S. to prevent the success of the attack. 

Whether Texas will be able to maintain the Independence 
which she has declared, or not, I have no means of judging 
which you do not possess, perhaps not so many. I am Inclined 
to believe that she will. If the Government Is administered 
with reasonable ability. Time Is everything to Texas, whilst 
delay is ruinous to the Mexican reconquest. The French 
Blocade ^ operates most advantageously to Texas, by ren- 
dering her secure against attacks from the Gulph, which I 
have always thought her most vulnerable side. She ought to 
wish that this Blocade may be long continued. In the mean 
time emigrants are pouring into Texas, and daily adding 
strength to her. I do not see how Mexico, torn as she is by 

1 For the French blockade, cf. Yoakum, H., History of Texas (New York, 1836), 
vol. II, pp. 252-257. 



33 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

factions, with her finances totally disordered, no efficient army 
nor commanders, and no good materials for an army to be 
sent on a distant conquest, can subjugate the revolted prov- 
ince. If France were out of the way, and Mexico had and could 
keep the preponderance at Sea, Texas might be in danger. 

If Texas is to be an independent power, it is the obvious 
interest of the U.S. to cultivate her friendship, as their near- 
est neighbour, in that quarter; and it is consequently their 
interest that Texas should jeel that she has been well treated 
by them. Hitherto she has had no just cause to complain of 
the U.S. whatever they may have given to any other power. 
This feeling of friendship towards the U.S. on the part of 
Texas, for one, I should be happy to see strengthened, by all 
the good offices that can be rendered, consistently with our 
neutrality. The loan, which she wishes to negoclate, and 
which you are inclined to make, may unquestionably be 
effected, without any violation of any Neutral duty by which 
the people of this Country stand bound. Of course, I give no 
opinion as to terms, or the security which may be offered 
for its reimbursement. Assuming them to be satisfactory to 
the parties, I think it, in every respect, highly desirable that 
Texas should contract an obligation for the loan in this 
Country, and not in any European State. 

I do not believe that the U.S. will or ought to interfere, so 
as to become a party to the contest, whilst it is confined to 
Mexico and Texas. But if any European power, and espe- 
cially if G. Britain or France, were to attempt the conquest 
of Texas, or to aid Mexico in reconquering it, in my opinion 
the U.S. could not regard any such attempt with indifference. 

I have thus, my dear sir, frankly expressed my opinions. 
I shall be happy If you should be able to derive any assist- 



From Thomas Cooper 333 

ance from them; but for the reason already stated, to which 
I should add that I send the first draft of my reply, without 
correction, and without retaining any copy, I do not wish 
publicity given to them without an urgent reason. 

Thomas Cooper to Biddle 

Columbia S. Carolina 
Private Oct' i. 1838 

Dear Sir. 

To the following letter make no reply. If I say any- 
thing that has not occurred to you before, which is very un- 
likely, use it in your own way. 

My original proposal met with the concurrence of every 
sensible man to whom I stated it, as a desirable event if it 
could be carried. But all doubted its present practicability, 
from the prevailing ignorance & prejudice about Banks. 
That prejudice is evanescing. But I think, the matter may 
be managed some years hence, if you take advantage of a 
stepping stone, which I am persuaded is likely to be placed 
for your accomodation. I see clearly that H. Clay is likely 
to be the successful candidate. Harrison is out of the question. 
So is that very able man Webster. I think, Clay does not 
mean to advocate your bank as the national Bank. In fact, 
You are that Bank. When you quit it, you carry with you 
its Character. All the good it does, and great good it has 
done, is not given as credit to the Bank, but to Nicholas 
Biddle. It is all imputed righteousness to yourself, and when 
it is managed by other heads, it will be difficult to support 
its present reputation. 

Why not take Woodbury's place under Clay? Then the 
national bank will be your Bank — an appropriate field of 



334 Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

usefulness and reputation will be open to you — you will 
have made a great step upwards — and it will be your own 
fault, if you do not make the next step into the chair which 
you ought to occupy. 

Probably you and H. Clay may have come to an under- 
standing about this; for I am not unaware that the oppor- 
tunity has occured. Remember, I enter my 80''^ year this 
month; & I am talking of probabilities which cannot be 
realized till I am in the grave. In meantime, if any prelim- 
inary movements before the public should be needed, com- 
mand me if I am living at the time. But I shall not last long. 
I have had my three warnings. Adieu. 

BiDDLE TO E. C. BiDDLE ^ 

PhIK Octo 31. 1838 
My dear Son 

. . . Everything goes on very comfortably here. You 
may judge of the relation in which the Gov*, and the Bank 
stand when I tell you that a few minutes ago a gentleman 
left me having come directly from Washington charged with 
a communication from M"" Poinsett. Among other things 
he said M'' Poinsett took occasion to speak to Blair in the 
presence of M"" Van Beuren, about the Bank; and that the 
President desired Blair not to attack the Bank or myself 
any more. M"". Poinsett himself moreover wrote an article 
for the Globe, explaining the late Circular issued by the 
Govern, directing the Officers to disburse the notes of the 
Bank. This article Blair was obliged to publish, adding some 
remarks of his own, just enough to save his own consistency. 
I will try to enclose the two articles. ... 

* Eldest son of Nicholas Biddle and at this time at Liverpool. Born, 1815. 



To yohn Forsyth 335 



BiDDLE TO John Forsyth * 

{Private) Phll^. Novem. 27^'^. 1838 

My dear Sir 

I have been wanting for some days past to go and talk 
with you; but I presume that I must pay the penalty of 
my notoriety by abstaining from being in Washington just 
now, and accordingly I write what I would much rather say. 
What I wanted to speak of was 

1. Texas. 

I mentioned when you were here, the intention of that 
Gov^ to withdraw its application for admission into the 
Union. That is now done, and it is very important that the 
President in his message should speak kindly and if possible 
cordially about that country, — intimating that this v/ith- 
drawal does not abate any of our good feelings towards 
Texas, and that we wish her prosperity. One kind word might 
do her good; — and that word may now be hazzarded with- 
out much risk, for I have reason to know that it will be re- 
peated and approved by some of the most prominent leaders 
of the opposition. I wish therefore you would see that the 
message is kindly on that point. 

The other matter was 

2. That part of the message which relates to money. I do 
hope that he will not vamp this worn out foolery of M'' Cal- 
houn, and say any more about the Sub Treasury. The coun- 
try is disgusted with the subject, — It cannot possibly do 
any good to the country, — it will do great harm to M"" Van 
Buren; — and if he will only say nothing about it we may 
get along very well; but if we are to have any more such 

1 Biddle wrote to Poinsett setting forth the same ideas as stated in this letter. 



3 3 6 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

nauseous stuff, men now well disposed to the President will 
be alienated, and it will not be easy to forsee all the conse- 
quences. 

Now upon these two matters I pray you to take order. 
You are politically responsible for the acts of this adminis- 
tration; — you may be personally responsible for the next 
administration, if you do not permit these experiments to 
be continued. 

John Forsyth to Biddle 

"private Washington Nov 29 1838 

My dear Sir 

The Message ^ has received Its last touches before 
your letter of the 27*^^ reached my hands. I cannot therefore 
avail myself of your suggestions. But I must not suffer you 
to suppose I would have done so, had they been received 
in season. The times do not permit any specially favorable 
notice of Texas. You will find however nothing of unkind- 
ness In the simple statement of our relations with the Repub- 
llck. Admitting, what I do not believe, that you are entirely 
correct In the other topick the Sub-Treasury, — as I know 
that M"" V.B.'s opinions have undergone no change I could 
not advise him to omit taking notice of the Subject in the 
message. Under present circumstances such pressure would 
betray a want of firmness & consistency which no danger of 
consequences politically or personal should tempt any one 
to betray. . . . 

1 Richardson, op. cit., vol. ill, pp. 483-506. Poinsett sent word to Biddle that 
the President could not take up the Texas question in detail owing to the difficulties 
with Canada at this period arising from the Aroostook War. 



"To Daniel TVehster 337 

Card to Biddle * 

The President 
requests the Honor of Mr Biddle's 
Company at dinner Tuesday the 26^^ Feby at 
6 Oclock 

The favor of an answer is desired 

Biddle to Daniel Webster 

{confidential) PhiK Deer. 13. 1840 

My dear Sir, 

The impression which I have that the coming admin- 
istration will be in fact your administration : one which I can 
honorably support & be connected with has revived a project 
in which I have for some time indulged — but which I have 
never mentioned to any one even of my own family. You will 
therefore receive it in the same confidence in which it Is written. 
I have retired as you know from all active affairs : ^ I do 
not wish to return to them. Whatever share I may have had 
in the war now happily ended — by the elevation of my 
friends, I have no pretensions — and shall stand in no man's 
way. It is a great wish of my family to travel In Europe, and 
I should incline to indulge it. But as you know travelling In 
Europe to a mere private gentleman is a dull business. If a 
man had a high public station & a higher public fame, as you 
had, he gets along well, but a private gentleman delivering 
cold letters of introduction & making his way into what is 

^ This card is interesting in that it discloses the close relations existing at this 
time between the President and Biddle after their long Bank war, for at the top 
of this card is written in ink," President — 1839." 

* Nicholas Biddle had retired from the Bank Presidency in March, 1839, at 
the age of fifty-four. 



3 3 8 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

called society has a task extremely repugnant to his pride. 
I am too old for that & I am satisfied that the only way of 
being comfortable is to have some public character which 
at once settles your rank & places you above the necessity 
of groping your way. Of these stations some are troublesome 
from the business to be done & from the crowds of country- 
men with whom one comes into contact: others give less rank 
but less labor. Now my object being to travel I would not be 
willing to remain in London or Paris or Petersburgh — but I 
would prefer some position within striking distance of all the 
places on the continent, which would form the circle of 
travel and on the whole the place which seems best adapted 
for that purpose is Vienna. In regard to fitness, I have noth- 
ing to say — I began my career as Secretary in Paris & after- 
wards in London. I was to have been sent by Mr Madison as 
Minister to London at the close of the last war, & was not 
sent because I was not a member of Congress — the ' Far I 
have never made any suggestion about it, I did not know 
even of the design till some years afterwards, & as I should 
be "able" & able from my own private means to do all the 
external honors of a legation & have already been at Vienna. 
I think I might be not a very bad successor ^ to the recent 
incumbent. That place too happens to be vacant so that 
no one need be removed and it is moreover ought of the 
sphere of ordinary competition among political men. The 
great interest to be encouraged there is the introduction upon 
better terms of our own tobacco and this I think I could man- 

^ Van Buren had appointed Henry Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania Minister to 
Austria. In 1841 C. S. Todd was nominated, but was shortly afterward suc- 
ceeded by Daniel Jenifer of Maryland. {American Almanac, 1843, p. 108.) Biddle, 
later, on several occasions wrote to Webster in regard to the post, but the corre- 
spondence shows no reply. The possible reason for his non-appointment may be 
found in the letter of Webster to Biddle, December 24, 1840. 



"To Daniel TVebster 339 

age better, perhaps than any mere planter who would carry 
about him the odour of his "business in this state." 

And now my story is told. I wish to travel & deeming some 
public character essential I have thought of one which might 
enable me to do some good, & to represent not unworthily 
the new administration & the new Secretary for foreign affairs 
both of which I suspect have been misrepresented in more 
sense than one abroad. To my objects position not salary is 
what I desire not so much a place as a passport. Now tell me 
what you think of all this? Is it a reasonable thing .^ Is it 
a probable thing? 

Daniel Webster to BmoLE 

Private Dec. 24. '40 

My Dear Sir 

I duly rec*^ your letter, on a certain subject, & have 
that subject "in all my thoughts." Nob'y could be better 
for the Country — & nothn would be more agreeable to me, 
than what you suggested. The difficulty will be with the 
Tobacco men. These Gentlemen got up the Austrian mission, 
some years ago, & expected a Marylander or a Virginian to 
fill it. M"" V. Buren disappointed that expectation, & appointed 
Mr. Muhlenberg, because he could talk German so well. Mr 
M. having returned, a new rally has been making, & two or 
three Tobacco raising candidates are in the field already. . . . 

BiDDLE TO Daniel Webster 

( private) Phil*. Dec'. 30. 1840 

My dear Sir 

... 2. I have received a visit of many hours from a 
friend who has just returned after passing several weeks in 



340 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

the midst of the most confidential circle of the President 
Elect and his friends — a disinterested cool observer and I 
have no doubt of the truth of his observations. He says de- 
cidedly that in the opinion of all that circle M"" W. is the 
person who will have much more influence with the President 

than M^ C 

4. My friend came full of another idea. He says that the 
same knot are of great friends of mine — that the President 
himself when lately at Louisville made a very strong & de- 
cided eulogium upon me, and that this circle of friends be- 
lieve that he wishes me to go into the Treasury. When I told 
him my determination on that head, he concluded with this 
declaration — Well I assure you, you can make the Secretary 
"of the Treasury." Now I would not go into the Treasury 
for all the money in it — but if I could help to put a good man 
there I would do so. But where is the man.-* If in this turmoil 
of Pennsylvania candidates, the President wants to get over 
a difficulty by naming a Penn^ man & wishes to name me I 
will refuse by return mail, and then we can find some compe- 
tent person. I mention this, that you may understand ex- 
actly the footing on which M^ H and I are . . . 

R. M. Blatchford to BmDLE 

New York Jan: 21. 1841 
My dear Sir 

. . . The Sub Treasury bill cannot now be repealed 
too soon — it is believed at Washington that the House will 
repeal it if the Senate will, and it is thought there that with 
the Penn: Senators a majority of the Senate will vote its 
repeal. Buchanan I understand has said that if he is in- 
structed to repeal it he will resign. Your Legislature is Whig 



From Daniel Webster 3 4 1 

— is It not practicable to get them instructing your Senators. 
Such a movement would Come well & with great power from 
your State. We could instruct M*" Wright in our State but he 
does not give faith to the doctrine. It might not be amiss to 
get Mr Webster's views on the Subject. The Sub Treasury 
being out of the way The Bank Tnust step in. 

BiDDLE TO Daniel Webster 

{confidential) Feby 2. 184 1 

My dear Sir, 

I understand, tho' at second hand, that a gentleman 
has arrived from Cin' who states that he heard the inaugural 
read — and that it speaks of the necessity of a national 
Bank, & almost recommends it. You may have heard this 
elsewhere but I mention it that you might be prepared to 
modify it if you think it should be modified. On the whole I 
should think the expediency of announcing that purpose so 
early was questionable. It does not seem to me necessary in 
the inaugural — however it may do in the message to the 
new Congress — and I should think it might rally at once the 
opposition on topics that might be turned to mischief against 
the new administration before it had time to strengthen itself. 

Daniel Webster to Biddle 

Confidential Feb. 4. '41 

Dear Sir, 

Those of us who are here are quite united in opinion, 
that the Inaugural should be confined to principles, & not 
go into measures; or [at] least, with one exception, & that 
would be to suggest the necessity of early augmentation of 
naval means. 



342 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 



Charles August Davis to Biddle 

New York lo April 1841 
This steamer will take to you advices of an interest- 
ing nature. The death ^ of our Venerable President though 
sincerely lamented will produce no material change in the 
policy of our new Administration. The Vice President his suc- 
cessor is a Gentleman of great purity of mind and well calcu- 
lated to assume the office and we shall probably see the meas- 
ures originally proposed carried out with signal unanimity. 

Biddle to John Tyler 

{private i^ confidential) Andalusia Aug* 19. 1842 

My dear sir, 

In my quiet seclusion I watch with great anxiety the 
progress of things at Washington — and as lookers on at the 
game sometimes see a move which may escape the busy 
players, I venture to make a suggestion. It Is prompted by 
an Intense sensitiveness to the present state of the country — 
by my desire to see your administration prosper — and more 
especially by the instinctive wish to come to the aid of one 
[for] whom I have long entertained a sincere personal ^ regard 
at the moment when he is overcome by numbers. 

It is manifest that your opponents are striving to make 
you odious as an enemy to the interests protected by the 
Tariff ^ which you are ready to sacrifice In order to gratify 

1 Harrison died April 4, 1841. 

2 Tyler had rendered good services to the Bank in the old war. Cf. Catterall, 
op. ciL, pp. 255, 267, 356. 

3 A full account of the struggle between President Tyler and the Whigs on 
the Tariff can be found in Von Hoist, H., The Constitutional History of the United 
States (Chicago, 1888), vol. 11, pp. 451-463; also brief accounts in Taussig, F. W., 
The Tariff History of the United States (New York, 1894), vol. 11, pp. 434-439- 



Biddle's Home at Andalusia 



T- LIBRARY I 



.^--TOR, LENOX _ 

, :, fC,:NDATIONS| 



From yohn Tyler 343 

your personal dislike to M*" Qay and M' Clay's favorite 
measure. 

Now if I understand your last veto — You do not dislike 
the Tariff bill itself — & you would have signed it but for its 
connection with the Distribution clause. If this be so, you 
have a chance of striking one of those master strokes which 
decide instantly the fate of the campaigns. It is this : 

To send immediately a message to Congress, urging, in con- 
sideration of the exhausted State of the Treasury a revenue hill 
exactly like that vetoed hill — word for word, or as near as you 
can to it — without saying anything about the Distribution 
clause. Look at the effect of it. If it succeeds, If your adver- 
saries dare not vote against it — It Is your triumph — your 
measure — a popular measure — for the country cares only 
for the Tariif & comparatively little for the Distribution. 
But If it fails — If your opponents vote against it, you will 
have done your duty. . . . 

John Tyler to Biddle 

Washington Aug 25*^ 1842. 
Dear Sir, 

I thank you most sincerely for your letter of the 19^^^. 
Before It reached me the House of Representatives as you 
have seen by the papers, had passed the Tariff Bill, which I 
had vetoed without the distribution clause. The Bill is now 
before the Senate, where It may undergo some amendments. 
In which event the probability is in favour of Its passage. 
The suggestion you make had occurred to me, and I was 
strongly impelled to take the step, but upon Informing myself 
with some degree of accuracy of the state of opinion which 
prevailed here, I abandoned it. A violent contest as I learned 



344 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

had arisen between the tarrffites and the distributionists, 
which fully manifested itself in the final voting in the House, 
so that the tariffites were driven to look to the democrats for 
aid, in order to enable them to carry through any measure. 
The democrats looked to some measure more moderate in 
its provisions than those of the bill, which I had returned to, 
the House, and being really anxious to have a good, sound 
and permanent measure passed, I feared evil rather than 
good. ... I have therefore resolved to rest on my oft re- 
peated recommendations to Congress, and leave it to assume 
all the responsibilities, growing out of and connected with 
that delicate but important question. . . . 

Biddle to Daniel Webster 

And^ Feby 27. 1843 
My dear Sir, 

I beg you to listen to the following oracular sentences 
which if they have no other inspiration are dictated by a 
public regard for you & for the Country. 

Do not leave your present position ! 

If you do, you descend — 

You must hereafter be only a king or a king maker. 

You can do nothing abroad which you cannot do better 
while you remain here & speak thro your agents — as Secre- 
tary you are the Gov* — as a Minister you are the Govern- 
ment's agent. 

Then if you go who is to take your place.'* 

Some transcendentalist — some cobweb spinner. 

— So stay — stay — 

Having delivered myself of these profundities I descend 
from my tripod & am 



From D. (aniel) W. (ebster) 345 



D.(aniel) W. (ebster) to Biddle 

Mar: 2. 1843 
My Dear Sir; 

I have not the least idea of going abroad, or of tak- 
ing any appointment, whatever — But I do not expect to 
remain where I am, more than a month — This, inter nos. 

D. (aniel) W. (ebster) to BmoLE 

Strictly private ^ confidential Mar: il. 43 

Dear Sir 

I may as well tell you, in the strictest confidence, the 
whole truth, respecting the state of things here. The Presi- 
dent is still resolved to try the chances of an Election. This 
object enters into every thing, & leads, & will lead, to move- 
ments in which I cannot concur. He is quite disposed to 
throw himself altogether into the arms of the loco foco party. 
This is just enough towards the Whigs — but it is not just 
to himself, or his own fame & character. He has altogether 
too high an opinion of the work which can be wrought by 
giving offices to hungry applicants. And he is surrounded by 
these, from morning to night. Every appointment, therefore, 
from the highest to the lowest, raises a question of political 
affects. This is terrible; especially in the Department where 
I am; & I fear the interest of the Country, & the dignity of 
the Gov^ may both suffer from it. Before the Whigs quar- 
reled with the President, I had no reason to complain of any 
want of proper influence, in regard to appointments con- 
nected with foreign affairs; altho the President had quite too 
many persons on hand to be provided for as charges . . . 
Since the formal abandonment of the President by the 



34^ Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

Whigs, my position Is entirely changed, as I can ask him for 
nothing. Between us, personally, there is entire good will; 
& if his object now was only to get thro his present term with 
credits, we should agree, in every thing. But I am expecting, 
every day, measures, which I cannot stand by, & face the 
Country. I must, therefore, leave my place. It seems inevi- 
table. Who will take it; I know not; or what is to become of 
us all, I know not. I fear, a confused & unsatisfactory scene 
is before us. — When you have read this, burn it. 

Biddle to John Tyler 

Anda March 4, 1843 
My dear Sir, 

I wish to make a suggestion to you & as In all cases 
the plainest course is the best, I proceed at once to my pur- 
pose. How it may accord with your own views I do not know 
— but your conduct In 1834 has given me a very strong feel- 
ing towards yourself & your administration, and It is as the 
friend of both that I speak. 

The subject most canvassed at present is the retirement 
of M"^ Webster — a question of much importance to the 
country — & of great interest to yourself. Looking at it in 
both aspects, I have reached these conclusions 

V^ as regards the country 

I take it for granted that there is no fitter man for the 
place. 

This is settled by acclamation 

His successor must be his inferior 

Now his value lies in being precisely where he is. If he 
went to England he would be only a single minister — now 
he is the instructor of all your ministers. Even in England 



To jfohn Tyler 347 

the strength of his name would be greater as Secretary of 
State giving your instructions to the resident minister in 
England, than if he were there in person — while to all other 
foreign governments that strength would be lost. 

Then 

2. as regards himself, 

You could not find a successor who would be so valuable 
& faithful an assistant to you. 

There is no man sufHcient[ly] prominent to justify his selec- 
tion who would not be liable to more personal and political 
objections, than he has. Yet he has now but shown them. He 
has run that gauntlet — He is seasoned — and is acknowl- 
edged on all hands to do honor to your choice. Besides — 
and this is the great matter for you personally — he is the 
Secretary of State — and nothing more. He has no political 
party, no body of political adherents. All these he has left for 
you. He has therefore no political aspirations. His strong 
hold on the country is that he can do the duties of the 
Department better than any one else — and he will do it. 
He must work cordially with you — without any cross pur- 
poses or intrigues having no political objects of his own. I 
remember well how my old friend M^ Monroe was annoyed 
by having in his Cabinet three aspirants ^ for the Presi- 
dency. 

I would therefore not let him go from the Department of 
State whether he wishes it or not. 

Yet after all, these may be the thoughts of a retired per- 
son who is entirely wrong: for I do not sufficiently under- 
stand the personal footing upon which you are & which in 

1 J. Q. Adams, Secretary of State; William H. Crawford, Secretary of the Treas- 
ury; and John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War. 



348 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

truth, must decide the question. But If there be no private 
reasons for your separation, all the public considerations are 
against It. 

Allow me to request that you will not answer this note. 
It Is a subject easy for one to write about — not easy for you 

— and my purpose Is merely to convey the very sincere senti- 
ment of a friend without troubling you with an increase of 
correspondence.-^ 

Memorandum ^ of Biddle to Daniel Webster 

April 5, 1843 
You are going to resign — that you think inevitable 

— well — 

But the matter of resignation is less important than the 
manner. 

In parting with the President the programme will of course 
be perfectly amiable. Nothing will be visible on either side 
but reciprocal good will and you are hereafter to be the 
object of a friendship much cemented by — separation. That 
settled, the next question is what do you retire to.? and by 
what route? 

You retire of course to absolute private life. Any thing 
else will be a fall obvious and Incurable. 

Then by what route do you retire."* 

If you have any political engagement with any one of the 
candidates, I have no more to say — you must of course 
abide his fortunes. 

But if you are entirely uncommitted the three roads of 

^ On March 7, Biddle sent Webster a copy of this letter with the admonition 
to show it to no one; and asked Webster "whether You think it will do good." 
2 Memorandum sent by Biddle to Webster. 



To Daniel W^ebster 349 

retreat are open — the route of Mr Tyler — the route of the 
Loco Focos, the route of the Whigs. 

Now I take the route of Mr Tyler to be entirely impossible. 
The moment you leave him, you cease all political sympathy 
with his administration. 

The route of the Locofocos is equally impracticable. They 
will never leave their own leaders — they will never move 
cordially under the banner of him against whom they have 
all their lives been fighting. 

There remains only the route of the Whigs. 

Now I have studied that part of the map — with less judg- 
ment of course but with more impartiality perhaps than you 
have done — because your own sensitiveness has made you 
more alive to the conduct of that party. 

They have had jealousies and heart burnings with regard 
to you — they have treated you unkindly & unjustly. Cold- 
ness there has been — shyness, alienation, soreness at the 
injury done to them by your ceasing to act with them. But 
in my judgment there is no bitterness — no wound not easily 
healed and the prevailing sentiment is rather regret & sorrow 
than hostility. 

Believing therefore that you must fix yourself somewhere, 
that seems to be the best place. 

And I have imagined this course — 

One of these days — and soon — before your motives are 
misinterpreted — go to some public meeting — not appar- 
ently made for the purpose, and say 

Six months ago I told you In Fanuell Hall that I was a 
Whig unchangeably. I repeat it now — you separated from 
me, not I from you — because I staid In power. But I did not 
so, because I thought I could do good. I think I did do good 



3 5 o Correspondence of Nicholas Bid die 

in making the English Treaty ^ and you agreed that I was 
right. 

Well, I thought by staying a little longer I could do more 
good. 

I told you so, and tried. 

But I find that I cannot do the good I proposed — and 
therefore I would not remain in place a moment longer than 
I could serve the country. 

And so I have come back to you. 

I ask nothing — I want nothing — I take my stand in 
the ranks of the party willing to work with you, to support 
our measures, and our men. 

Such a step will be decisive — it would be hailed with a 
shout throughout the country. 

It would make a brilliant retreat — it would extricate you 
from your present awkward position and make your future 
path public & private as smooth as you could desire. 

Think of this — 

I offer it because I wish you to know my views before I 
know yours. 

If you have decided or shall decide otherwise I will bring 
myself to think it best, but now: 

this line of retreat both in a military & civil aspect is the 
best in my judgment. 

You would think so too, if you studied the retreats of Lord 
Wellington in Spain. 

If possible, I would say nothing or what is equivalent to 
nothing at parting. 

The fear is that you may seem to approve too much of the 
past — which is much to be avoided. 

* Webster — Ashburton Treaty. 



To C, B. Penrose 351 



TO C. B. Penrose * 

And^ Apr. 24. 1843 
My dear Sir, 

Knowing how anxious you are [to] serve the country 
it strikes me that you might be useful now. 
' I look with infinite regret at the prospect of a separation 
between M'' Tyler & M' Webster. I think M'' Webster is not 
disinclined to stay if he were made to stay, & he ought to be 
made to stay. I believe moreover that all the expectations 
ascribed I trust unjustly to M"" Tyler of making the demo- 
cratic party his party are wholly fallacious. No matter who 
thinks so such a belief will only mislead him. His patronage 
has not yet made him a single friend. No. He must take his 
own course — make his own party of the best men of the 
country — but not seek to win over any existing class of 
politicians. He has before him a noble career if he will make 
an administration of his own exclusively. But if M*" W. goes 
away I think he will lose the chief strength & the great orna- 
ment of his administration. 

He spent 24 hours here last week — & seeing unbroken 
vigor of his understanding I could not avoid feeling it a 
public misfortune that he should be withdrawn from the 
public counsels. 

Help to prevent it if you can.^ 

' C. B. Penrose was appointed by President Harrison as Solicitor of the Treas- 
ury, which office he held until the close of the Tyler Administration. He was 
also one of the editors of Penrose and Watts's Reports of Cases in the Supreme 
Court of Pennsylvania (i 832-1 833). 

^ In Biddle's handwriting. ' 



35 2 Correspondence of Nicholas Biddle 

BiDDLE TO Joseph Gales 

Andalusia Jan^ 9 1844 
My dear Sir 

When I had the pleasure of seeing you here we con- 
versed about the benefit which might accrue to the Country 
from the union of M*" Clay & M"" Webster & their respective 
friends so as to ensure their triumphant election & a strong 
& cordial administration of public affairs — I continue of 
the same mind — I believe that the thing most desirable now 
would be the nomination of M"" Clay for Pres^ & M"" Webster 
for Vice Pres^ & this rather because it would shew both in 
this country & in Europe the cordial union of these two 
American statesmen in whom the most confidence is placed 
in Europe than because of any adaptation of M'' Webster 
for that Station which is one of mere pagent. 

Should however this union be impracticable, the next best 
thing in my judgment would be that M*" Webster should be 
wholly unconnected with M' Clays administration, should 
not I mean be a member of his Cabinet — there is not room 
enough for two such men in so small place. In that event his 
proper place is the Senate where he would I have no doubt 
go & where he might occupy M"" Choats place. ^ . . . 

Biddle to Daniel Webster 

Andalusia 9 Jany 44 ^ 
My dear Sir 

I have written to day as I said I would to Mr Gales 

* When Webster was appointed Secretary of State under Harrison, Ruf us Choate 
was elected to his place in the United States Senate. He was opposed to the annexa- 
tion of Texas. Cf. Appleton, CyclopcEdia. 

* Seven weeks before death. Nicholas Biddle died at Andalusia, February 27, 

1844- 



To Daniel Webster 353 

my present purpose as far as You are concerned is to avoid 
all seism between You & M*" Clay. I should for many reasons 
prefer in the first instance the union of the two names on the 
same ticket as an assurance both here & in Europe of your 
cordiality. If any reason should dissuade from that, the next 
thing is for You to be unconnected with M"" Clays adminis- 
tration & "bide your time" . . . 



APPENDIX 



Appendix I 



An incomplete "statement of the loans made by the Bank & 
its Branches to members of Congress (as far as is known), 
Editors of Newspapers & officers of the Gen' Gov'. & the terms 
of such loans. 

" There are no means in possession of the Bank of ascertaining 
all the loans made to these several classes of persons during the 
period of the charter, but as far as is known, the following list 
comprises the names of such persons who have been or are 
responsible to the Bank as drawers or endorsers of notes during 

few 



* 



JciOL TT-TTr-cnf — uiA ^v^aio. 




New Hampshire 




Isaac Hill 


3.800 


Massachusetts 




W Appleton 


10,000 


Dan'. Webster 


17,782.86 


N Silsbee 


8,000 


James Lloyd 


8,000 


New York 




D. D. Tompkins 


40,000 


Jas. W Webb 


18,000 


Sam'. Beardsley 


4,900 


Pennsylvania 




Joseph Hemphill 


10,500 


W". Ramsay 


8,000 


Philander Stevens 


3,500 


Jno G. Watmough 


1,700 


Change made in manuscript. 


* Manuscript in Biddle's own handwriting. 



358 



Appendix 



W'". Wilkins 


6,460 


Henry Baldwin 


35.819 


Louis M'^Lane 


5,150 


R Walsh 


6,541.72 


Edw"^ Livingston 


1,000 


George A Waggaman 


4,800 


H. A Bullard 


9,050 


Joseph R Chandler 


2,000 


Jasper Harding 


37,434-81 


Maryland 




S Smith & Buchanan 


1,540,000 


W" Graydon (?) 


9,800 


Washington 




James Monroe 


10,596 


John C Calhoun 


4,400 


James Barbour 


16,000 


Tho^ Hinds 


6,000 


W H Overton 


6,000 


Jno H Eaton 


9,000 


Jno Branch 


5,100 


J L Southard 


1,000 


W H Crawford 


1,500 


W. B Lewis 


10,765 


Henry Clay 


7,500 


Gales & Seaton 


32,360 


Duff Green 


15,600 


Josiah R Johnston 


28,405 


Jno McLean 


6,733-30 


Amos Kendall 


5,375 


Virginia 




Andrew Stevenson 


2,000 


W". C Rives 


5,500 



Appendix 359 



W"^. L Archer 2,500 

Hugh Nelson 1,000 

Rob\ S Garnett 1,500 

Dan^ ShefFey 5,000 

Thomas Ritchie 10,900 

North Carolina 

W" B Sheppard 5,000 

South Carolina 

Ja^ Hamilton Jr IS400 

Joel R Poinsett 13,100 

H Middleton 6,000 

Georgia 

RH Wilde ' 6,000 

Jno Forsyth 20,000 

Kentucky 

R M Johnson 10,820 

W" J Barry 5>503 

George M Bibb 7»500 § 

§ In Biddle Papers; Vol. 73; 1837, in Library of Congress. 



INDEX 



Index of Proper Names 



Aberdeen, Lord, 60, 60 n. 

Adams, J., 208 n. 

Adams, J. Q., 48 n, 56 n, 63, 63 n, 64, 67, 70, 

156, 169, 188 n, 190, 197, 311, 311 n, 

312, 347 n. 
Allen, W., 398, 298 n. 
Angel, W.G., 161. 
Appleton, VV., 219, 219 n, 237. 
Archer, W. S., 156. 
Arnold, T. D., 150. 
Austin, S. F., 269, 269 n. 

Babcock, W., 161. 

Baker, C. S., 264, 264 n, 267, 301, 302, 303, 

304, 321 n. 
Barbour, J. S., 207, 210, 210 n. 
Barbour, P. P., 43. 43 ", 44, 45, 4^, 47, 48. 

90, 149. 
Barnard, F., 147 n. 
Barnard, Gen'l, 121, I2I n. 
Barney, J. W., 45, 45 n, 46. 
Barry, W. T., 87, 87 n, 139, 139 n, 140, 

150. 
Bell, J., 150, 156. 

Benton, T. H., 105 n, 131, 272, 298 n. 
Bevan, M. L., 81, 81 n. 
Biddle, C. C, 9, 9 n. 
Biddle, E. C, 334, 334 n. 
Biddle, E. R., 267, 267 n, 292, 294, 295, 

296. 
Biddle, J. S., 197. 

Binney, H., 170, 170 n, 172, 220, 220 n. 
Blair, F. P., 127, 323, 334. 
Blatchford, R. M., 233, 233 n, 317, 340. 
Blatchford, S., 233 n. 
Bonaparte, N., 7 n, 8, 9, 303. 
Bowne, W., 37, 37 n. 
Boyd, J. P., 40, 40 n. 
Breck, S., 224, 224 n. 
Brooke, F., 142 n. 
Brown, B., 149, 157. 
Buchanan, J., 304, 315, 340. 
Buckner, A., 143, 149. 
Bucknor, W. G., 194, 194 n. 
Buel, J., 243. 



Burden, Dr., 264, 304. 
Burke, E., 60. 
Burr, A., J. 

Cadwalader, G., 33, 33 n, 75, 146, 147, 
147 n, 151, 152, 154, 155, 158, 160, 16;, 
191, 192, 193. 

Calhoun, J. C, 28, 29, 105 n, 114, 122, 141, 
141 n, 179, 203, 222, 223, 231, 331 n, 
268 n, 279, 280, 281, 293, 301, 306, 306 n, 
314. 335, 347 n. 

Cambreleng, C. C, 44, 44 n, 46, 66, 298, 

299,313- 

Cass, L., 150, 160, 160 n, 183 n. 

Cheves, L., 27 n. 

Choate, R., 352, 352 n. 

Clarke, M. St. Clair, 85, 85 n, 86, 87 n, 
246 n. 

Clay, H., 48, 48 n, JO, 51 n, 61, loj, 105 n, 
no, 114, 115, 123, 123, 135, 135 n, 142, 
I42n, 143, 14s, 149, IS3, 154, 154 n, 156, 
171, 179, 196, 197, 202, 202 n, 218, 230, 
235, 281, 297, 299, 300, 300 n, 304, 309, 
322, 333, 324, 336, 330, 333, 334, 343, 

352, 353- 
Clayton, J. M., 148, 187 n, 188 n, 189. 
Clinton, DeW., I03, 160 n. 
Colt, R. L., 13 n, 30, 30 n, 45, 46, 66, 87, 

104, 132, 199, 245, 310, 310 n. 
Connell, J., 169, 169 n. 
Conrad, H. W., 267. 
Cooke, B., 161. 
Cooper, T., 208, 208 n, 209, 211, 213, 215, 

230, 272, 277, 278, 280, 281, 293, 296, 

316, 333, 333. 
Cope, C, 387. 
Cope, H., 355. 

Cope, T. P., 38s, 286, 287, 288. 
Crawford, VV. H., 347 n. 
Creighton, W., 193. 
Crommelieu, J., 41, 41 n. 
Crowninshield, A., 33, 33 n. 

Dallas, G.M., 148, 152, 156, 159, 172, I73, 
174, 176, 177, 190. 



364 Index of Proper Names 



Davis, C. A., loi, loi n, 257, 290, 292, 

342- 
Dewart, L., 151. 

Dickerson, M., 148, 152, 157, 276. 
Dickins, A., 53, 53 n, 54, 59, 75, 76 n, 77, 

128, 131, 146, 172. 
Doddridge, P., 149. 
Drayton, C., 46, 150, 156. 
Duane, W. J., 15, 211, 213, 214, 215. 
Dun, W., 73, 79. 
Dunn, J. L., 266, 267. 

Eaton, J. H., 75 n, 87. 
Eaton, Mrs. J. H., 77 n. 
Ellis, P., 149. 
Ellmaker, A., 179, 179 n. 
Erskine, D. M., 5, 5 n, 6. 
Etting, S., 234, 234 n. 
Evans, G., 156, 268. 
Everett, E., 44, 44 n, 253. 
Ewing, T., 197, 268 n. 

Ferdinand VII, 8 n. 

Fisher, M., 241 n. 

Fisher, R., 241, 241 n. 

Fogg, F. B., 97, 98- 

Ford, J., 151. 

Forman, J., lOi n. 

Forsyth, J., 149, 152, 157, 223, 276, 307, 

307 n., 335, 335 n, 336- 
Foster, E. H., 97, 98, 298 n. 
Fry, W., 4 n. 

Gales, J., 46, 46 n, 55, 56 n, 58, 125, 190, 

352- 
Gallatin, A., 122, 123, 242. 
Gibbes, R. W., 139, 205. 
Gibbs, G., 34, 34 n. 
Gorham, B., 44, 44 n. 
Gouge, W. M., 211, 211 n. 
Green, D., 61, 62, 96 n, 122, 124, 124 n. 
Greene, G., 170. 
Grundy, F., 105 n, 149, 157, 298, 298 n. 

Hagan, J., 82, 83, 84. 
Hamilton, A., Sr., 169 n. 
Hamilton, A., Jr., 88, 88 n, 91, 244. 
Hamilton, J., 171, 294. 
Hammond, C, 225, 225 n, 305 n. 
Hanna, R., 149. 
Harding, J., 257. 



Harper, J., 48, 67, 67 n, 74, no, iion, 127. 
Harrison, VV. H., 253, 255, 256, 272, 333, 

351 n. 
Harvie, J. B., 288, 289. 
Hayne, R. Y., 121, 121 n, 149. 
Hemphill, J., 86, 86 n, 87 n, 116, 117, 118, 

124. 
Hendricks, W., 149, 153. 
Hoffman, G., 61, 61 n, 62, 69 n, 87, 91. 
Hogan, W., 161. 
Holland, Lord, j. 
Hopkinson, J., 221, 221 n. 
Horn, H., 151, 156. 
Hunter, J., 114, 114 n, 116 n, 126. 
Huske, J., 253. 
Huskisson, W., 60, 60 n. 

Ingersoll, C. J., 171, 171 n, 174, 179, 181, 
183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 188 n, 200, 
268. 

Ingham, S. D., 53 n, 76 n, 77, 77 n, 78, 86, 
94, lOS n. 

Jackson, A., 56 n, 62, 63, 70, 74, 77 n, 78, 
79 n, 89, 92 n, 93, 93 n, 94, 105 n, 107, 
108, 109, 109 n. III, 113, 120, 121, 122, 
131, 140, 141, 142, 143, 145, 150, 152, 
153, 160 n, 172, 172 n, 175, 176, 179, 190, 
194, 199, 201, 208, 209, 211, 212, 223, 
230, 263 n, 268 n, 272, 277 n, 281, 298 n. 

Jaudon, S., 81, 81 n, 82, 226, 253, 311, 313, 
3x4,318,324. 

Jefferson, T., 3 n. 

Jenifer, D., 338 n. 

Johnson, R. M., 63, 63 n. 

Kane, E. K., 153. 

Kendall, A., 139, 183, 205, 214, 2x5, 221, 

297. 
King, A., 151. 
King, C, 291. 
King, W. R., 149. 
Krebs, J., 266, 267 n, 268 n. 

Lansing, G. Y., 161. 

Lawrence, I., 34, 34 n, 36, 153 n. 

Lawrence, W. B., 123, 257. 

Leigh, B. W., 283, 285, 287, 288, 289, 291, 

292. 
Lenox, R., 31, 31 n, 36, 72, 73, 73 n, 2x2, 

2x5. 



Index of Proper Names 365 



Lent, J. W., 161. 

Letcher, R. P., 121, 121 n. 

Lewis, M., 88 n. 

Lewis, W. B., 72 n, 79, 79 n, 80, 83, 83, 84, 

8s,87n, 93,97, 99, 103, 114, 117, 160 n, 

183. 
Livingston, E., I3i, 121 n, 129, 150, 171, 

174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 184, 187, 190, 

191. 
Livingston, P. R., 160, 160 n, 161. 
Lloyd, J., 38. 
Louder, J., 265. 
Luchhesini, 185, 185 n. 
Lynch, J. H., 287. 

McDuFFiE, G., 44, 44 n, 46, 47, 114, 116, 
119 n, 123, 130, 141, 150, 151, 152, 153, 
154, iSS, 156, IS7, 158, 159. 176, 178, 188, 
188 n, 189, 197, 280. 

Mcllvaine, J., 49, 49 n, 56 n, 261, 261 n, 
263, 264 n, 368 n. 

McKim, A., 13. 

McKim, J., 13, 13 n, 39, 96, 265. 

McLane, L., 128, 129, 130, 131, 138, 139, 
140, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 153, 
157, 160, 161, 165, 169 n, 174, 176, 183 n, 
191, 206. 

McLean, J., 63, 63 n, 68, 69. 

Madison, J., 3 n, 7, 176, 189, 207, 338. 

Mangum, M. N., 139, 149, 152, 157. 

Mann, J. K., 151, 156. 

Marat, 196. 

Marshall, J., 93, 283, 283 n, 284, 285, 286, 
287, 288, 291. 

Marshall, Mrs. J., 289. 

Marshall, T., 285. 

Marshall, W., 284. 

Mason, J., 33, 33 "> 34, 52. 52 n, S3. 73. 

73 n, 75- 
Mercer, C. F., 140, 140 n, 149, 156. 

Miller, S. D., 149- 

Mitchell, G. E., 149- 

Monroe, J., 3, 3 n, 4, 7, 7 n, la, 13, 14. I5, 

328, 347; 
Montesquieu, 207. 
Morris, T., 298, 298 n. 
Muhlenberg, H., 338 n, 339. 

Nev^kirk, M., 297, 297 n. 

Newton, T., 149. 

Nichol, J., 72, 72 n, 106, 107. 



Norris, J., 256. 

Norvall, J., 120, 120 n, 121. 

Oliver, R., 13 n, 206. 
Overton, J., 97, 98, 109, 109 n. 

Parsons, E., 125, 125 n. 

Patterson, R., 276, 276 n, 277. 

Patterson, S. D., 266. 

Peel, Sir R., 60, 60 n. 

Penrose, C. B., 264, 351, 351 n. 

Pickens, F. fV., 293, 305 n, 306 n. 

Pierson, J., 161. 

Pinkney, W., 3 n, 5, S n. 

Poinsett, J. R., 104, 273, 273 n, 274, 276, 

281, 306 n, 316, 334, 336 n. 
Pointdexter, G., 149, 153, 157- 
Porter, A., 97, 98, 235, 235 n. 
Potter, J., 48, 48 n, 95. 
Priestley, J., 208 n. 

Randolph, J., 208. 

Rathbone, J., Jr., 198, 198 n, 215, 282. 

Reed, E. C, 161. 

Reed, W. B., 258, 258 n, 261. 

Ritchie, T., 213, 212 n. 

Ritner, J., 247 n, 251, 261 n. 

Rives, W. C, 298, 298 n, 300, 322. 

Robespierre, 196. 

Robinson, J. McC, 153. 

Root, E., 149. 

Rush, R., 5S, 55 n, 56, 59, 61, 62. 

Sears, D., 32, 32 n, 153 n. 

Seaton, W., 95, 96. 

Sergeant, J., 43, 43 n, 46, 78, 147 n, 154, 

154 n, 200, 222, 260, 305, 313. 
Seward, W. H., 160 n. 
Shepard, W. B., 149, 149 n, 156. 
Sheppard, C, 301. 
Shippen, E., 136. 
Silsbee, N., 92, 92 n, 135, 155- 
Smith, D. A., 298. 
Smith, J. S., 231. 
Smith, R., 6n, 53, 53 n, 117- 
Smith, S., 54, 54 n, 62, 65, 87, 94. 121. 123, 

138, 143, 148, 150, 151, 152, 153, ISS. 

157, 161, 177, 197. 
Smith, S. H., 227, 227 n, 229. 
Smith, W., 283, 284, 288, 289, 291. 
Soule, N., 161. 



366 Index of Proper Names 



Stein, Baron von, 186 n. 

Stevens, T., 247 n, 261 n, 262, 264, 301,315. 

Stevenson, A., 151, 151 n. 

Stewart, Commodore, 206. 

Stilwell, S. M., 244, 290, 290 n. 

Swartwout, S., 213, 213 n, 217. 

Swift, Dean, 63. 

Tacitus, 207. 

Talleyrand, 185. 

Tallmadge, N. P., 290 n, 295 n, 298. 

Taney, R. B., 139, 139 n, 183 n, 206, 216 n, 

223. 
Taylor, G. K., 284. 
Tazewell, L. W., 121, 121 n. 
Thomas, F., 297. 

Tilford, J., 73, 73 n, 74, no, 135, 197. 
Toland, H., 84, 85, 85 n, 86, 87 n, 267. 
Tyler, J., 86 n, 342, 342 n, 343, 346, 349, 

351,351 n- 

Van Buren, M., 63 n, 87, 89, 89 n, loi, 
loi n, 102, 102 n, 104, 104 n, 105 n, in, 
122, 141, 141 n, 160 n, 171, 172, 173, 176, 
179, 193, 201, 202, 202 n, 208, 209, 250, 
251, 276, 276 n, 277, 277 n, 279, 281, 282, 
290, 293, 295 n, 297, 298 n, 302, 304, 
304 n, 306 n, 315, 323, 324, 334, 335, 336, 
338 n, 339. 



Van Lier, B., 97, 98. 
Vaux, J., 97, 98. 

Wallace, J. B., 262, 263. 

Walsh, R., 4 n, 6, 51. 

Watmough, J. G., 190, 190 n, 202, 221. 

Webb, J. W., 194, 194 n, 227, 243. 

Webster, D., 38, 41, 52, 58, 85, 145, 147 n, 
155) 158, 169, 170 n, 193, 197, 202, 203 n, 
205, 214, 216, 218, 220, 231, 231 n, 250, 
251, 251 n, 255, 280, 282, 299 n, 301, 
310 n, 323, 32s, 325 n, 328, 333, 337, 
338 n, 339, 344, 345, 346, 348, 348 n, 351, 
352, 353 n. 

Wellington, Duke of, 60 n, 88 n, 3 50. 

White, C. P., 30, 30 n, 42, 149, 153 n. 

White, H. L., 98, 250, 255, 272, 281, 

Wilcox, J. v., 287, 288. 

Wilde, R. H., 150. 

Wilkins, W., 86, 86 n, 148, 152, 159, 183. 

Williams, L., 172, 172 n. 

Williamson, B., 147 n. 

Wirt, W., 3 n, 179, 179 n. 

Wolf, G., 175, 224 n. 

Wood, S. R., 265. 

Woodbury, L., 73 n, 79, 139, 140, 150, 
183 n, 215, 274 n, 276, 312, 319, 333. 

Woodworth, J., 244, 244 n. 

Wright, S., 341. 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 
U . S . A 



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